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385 Wash'n St. Boston 


It looks to me," said Dr. Syn, " uncommonly like a King's 

Frigate " 









Co'pynght, 1915, hy 


All rights reserved, including that of 

translation into foreign Languages^ 

including the Scandinavian 



1. Dymchurch-under- the- wall 3 

2. The Coming of the King's Frigate 8 

3. The Coming of the King's Men 14 

4. The Captain 25 

5. A Bottle of Alsace Lorraine 32 

6. Doctor Syn Takes Cold 39 

7. Clegg the Buccaneer 45 

8. Dogging the Schoolmaster 56 

9. The End of Sennacherib Pepper 65 

10. Doctor Syn Gives Some Advice 70 

11. The Court House Inquiry 77 

12. The Captain Objects 82 

13. The End of the Inquiry 91 

14. At the Vicarage 97 

15. A Landed Proprietor Sets Up a Gallows Tree . 101 

16. The Schoolmaster's Suit 112 

17. The Doctor Sings a Song 119 

18. Behind the Shutters 126 

19. The Captain's Nightmare 129 

20. A Terrible Investigation 133 

21. The Bo'sun's Story 139 

22. A Curious Breakfast Party 145 

23. A Young Recruit 158 

24. The Coffin-Maker Has a Visitor 172 

25. The Sexton Speaks 178 

26. The Devils' Tiring House 190 

27. The Scarecrow's Legion 196 




28. The Fight at Mill House Farm 205 

29. Captain Collyer Entertains an Attorney from Rye 217 

30. Doctor Syn Has a "Call" 224 

31. A Certain Tree Bears Fruit 234 

32. The Captain's Experiment 240 

33. Adventures in Watchbell Street 246 

34. A Military Lady-killer Prepares for Battle . . 263 

35. Scylla and Charybdis 270 

36. Holding the Pulpit 279 

37. The Dead Man's Throttle . 288 

38. Dymchurch-under- the- wall 297 

39. Echoes 300 




TO THOSE who have small knowledge of Kent 
let me say that the fishing village of Dym- 
church-under-the-wall lies on the south coast 
midway between two of the ancient Cinque ports, Rom- 
ney and Hythe. 

In the days of George III, with Trafalgar still un- 
fought, our coast watchmen swept with keen glasses 
this broad bend of the Channel; watched not for 
smugglers (for there was little in Dymchurch to attract 
the smuggler, with its flat coastline open all the way 
from Dover cliffs around Dungeness to Beachy Head), 
but for the French men-o'-war. 

In spite of being perilously open to the dangers of 
the French coast, Dymchurch was a happy little village 
in those days — aye, and prosperous, too, for the Squire, 
Sir Antony Cobtree, though in his younger days a wild 
and reckless adventurer, a gambler and a duellist, had, 
of late years, resolved himself into a pattern Kentish 
squire, generous to the village, and so vastly popular. 
Equally popular was Doctor Syn, the vicar of Dym- 
church: a pious and broad-minded cleric, with as great 



a taste for good Virginia tobacco and a glass of some- 
thing hot as for the penning of long sermons which 
sent every one to sleep on Sundays. Still, it was clearly 
his duty to deliver these sermons, for, as I have said, he 
was a pious man, and although his congregation for the 
most part went to sleep, they were at great pains not to 
snore, because to offend the old Doctor would have been 
a lasting shame. 

The little church was old and homely, within easy 
cry of the sea; and it was pleasant on Sunday evenings, 
during the Doctor's long extempore prayers, to hear 
the swish and the lapping and continual grinding of the 
waves upon the sand. 

But church would come to an end at last, as most 
good things will, although there was a large proportion 
of the congregation — especially among the younger 
members — who considered that they could have even 
too much of a good thing. 

The heavy drag of the long sermon and never-ending 
prayers was lifted, however, when the hymns began. 
There was something about the Dymchurch hymns 
that made them worth singing. True, there was no 
organ to lead them, but that didn't matter, for Mr. 
Rash, the schoolmaster — a sallow, lantern-jawed young 
man with a leaning toward music — would play over the 
tune on a fiddle, when led by the Doctor's sonorous 
voice, and seconded by the soul-splitting notes of Mipps, 
the sexton, the choir, recruited entirely from seamen 


whose voices had been cracked these many years at the 
tiller, would roll out some sturdy old tune like a giant 
paean, shaking the very church with its fury, and sound- 
ing more like a rum -backed capstan song than a re- 
spectable, God-fearing hymn. They felt it was worth 
while kneeling through those long, long prayers to have 
a go at the hymns. The Doctor never chose solemn 
ones, or, if he did, it made no odds, for just the same 
were they bellowed like a chanty, and it was with a 
long-drawn note of regret that the seafaring choir 
drawled out the final Amen. 

Very often when a hymn had gone with more spirit 
than usual the Doctor would thump on the desk of the 
three-decker, addressing the choir with a hearty, "Now, 
boys, that last verse once again," and then, turning to 
the congregation, he would add: "Brethren, for the 
glory of God and for our own salvation we will sing 
the — er — the last two verses once again.'* Whereat 
Mr. Rash would scrape anew upon the fiddle. Doctor 
Syn would pound out the rhythm with a fist banging on 
the pulpit side, and after him would thunder the sea 
salts from the choir with an enthusiasm that bade fair 
to frighten hell itself. 

When they had hardly a note left in their bodies, the 
service would be rounded off by Doctor Syn, and the 
congregation would gather in little groups outside the 
church to bid him a good-night. But Doctor Syn 
would take some minutes changing his black gown for 


his cloth surcoat; besides, there was the collection to be 
counted and entered into the book, and a few words 
of parochial business with the sexton, but at last it would 
be all finished and he would come forth to receive the 
homage of the parish. He would be accompanied by 
Sir Antony, who was warden as well as squire and a 
regular churchgoer, as the well-thumbed pages of a 
large prayer-book in the family pew could prove. Be- 
stowing a cheery word here and a kindly nod there, the 
gentlemen would pass on to the Court House, where, 
after a hearty supper. Doctor Syn would metaphorically 
lay aside his robes of righteousness, and over a long pipe 
of his favourite tobacco and a smoking bowl of bishop, 
with many an anecdote of land and ,sea, make the jolly 
squire laugh till his sides ached, for he possessed to a 
lively extent that happy knack of spinning a good yarn, 
having travelled far and read much, albeithe wasaparson. 
And while the vicar entertained his patron at the 
Court House, Mr. Mipps in a like manner held court 
behind the closed doors of the old "Ship Inn." Here, 
with his broken clay pipe asmoke like a burning chimney 
and with eminent peril of singeing the tip of his nose, 
he would recount many a tale of wild horror and ad- 
venture, thoroughly encouraged by Mrs. Waggetts, the 
landlady, who had perceived the sexton's presence to be 
good for trade; and thus it was that by working his 
imagination to good effect Doctor Syn's parochial 
factotum was plied with many a free drink at the ex- 


pense of the "Ship." The little sexton was further 
encouraged into yarning because it gratified his vanity 
to see that they all believed in him. It was exhilarat- 
ing to know that he really made their flesh creep. He 
felt a power and chuckled in his heart when he saw his 
audience swallowing his exaggerations for gospel as 
easily as he himself could swallow rum, for Mipps liked 
rum — ^he had served for a great part of his life as a ship's 
carpenter and had got the taste for it — and so as a 
seasoned traveller they respected him, for what he 
hadn't seen of horrors in the far-off lands — well, the 
whole village would have readily staked their wigs was 
not worth seeing. 



NOW Doctor Syn was very fond of the sea, and 
he was never far away from it. Even in winter 
time he would walk upon the sea-wall with a 
formidable telescope under his arm, his hands thrust 
deep into the pockets of a long sea-coat, and his old 
black three-cornered parson's hat cocked well forward 
and pulled down over his eyes. And although the 
simple old fellow would be mentally working out his 
dry-as-dust sermons, he would be striding along at a 
most furious speed, presenting to those who did not 
know him an altogether alarming appearance, for in 
tune to his brisk step he would be humming the first 
verse of an old-time sea chanty that he had picked up 
from some ruffianly seadog of a parishioner; and as he 
strode along, with his weather eye ever on the lookout 
for big ships coming up the Channel, the rough words 
would roll fron his gentle lips with the most perfect 

" Oh, here's to the feet that have walked the plank, 
Yo ho! for the dead man's throttle, 
And here's to the corpses floating round in the tank, 
And the dead man's teeth in the bottle." 



He was as proud of this song as if he had written it 
himself, and it was a continual source of amusement to 
the fishermen to hear him sing it, which he frequently 
did of an evening in the parlour of the old Ship Inn 
when he went there for a chat and a friendly pipe; 
for Doctor Syn was, as I have said, broad-minded, and 
held views that would certainly have been beyond those 
of the diocesan dignitaries. The very daring of a par- 
son drinking with the men in a public inn had a good 
effect, he declared, upon the parish, for a good parson, 
as a good sailor, should know when he has had enough. 
The squire would back him up in this, and there they 
would both sit every evening laughing and talking with 
the fishermen, very often accompanying some crew 
down to the beach to help them launch their boat — and 
of course all this added to their popularity. But on 
Sunday nights they dined at the Court House, leaving 
the field open for the redoubtable Mipps, who, as has 
been said, took full advantage of it. 

Now the ungainly little sexton had a great admirer 
in the person of Mrs. Waggetts, the landlady of the 
Ship. Her husband had been dead for a number of 
years, and she was ever on the lookout for another. 
She perceived in the person of Mipps her true lord and 
master. He was enterprising, he had also money of 
his own, for he was parish undertaker as well as sexton, 
and ran from his small coflSn shop in the village every 
trade imaginable. You could buy anything, from a 


bottle of pickles to a marlin spike in that dirty little 
store, and get a horrible anecdote thrown in with your 
bargain from the ready lips of the old fellow, who would 
continue to hammer away at an unfinished coflSn as he 
talked to you. 

But the burning passion that smouldered in the breast 
of the Ship landlady was in no way shared by the little 

"Missus Waggetts," he would say, *'folk in the death 
trade should keep single; they gets their fair share of 
misery, Lord above knows, in these parts with the deaths 
so uncommon few." 

"Well," Mrs. Waggets would sigh, "I often wish as 
how it had been me that had been took instead of 
Waggetts. I fair envy him lying up there all so peace- 
ful like, just a-rottin' slowly along of his coflfin." 

But the sexton would immediately fly into a rage 
with: "Waggetts' coffin rottin', did you say, Missus 
Waggetts.'^ Not mine. I undertook Waggetts, I'd 
have you remember, and I don't undertake to rot. I 
loses money on my coffins. Missus Waggetts. I under- 
takes, ma'am, undertakes to provide a suitable affair 
wot'll keep out damp and water, and cheat worm, grub, 
slug, and slush." 

"Nobody could deny. Mister Mipps," the landlady 
would answer in a conciliatory tone, "as how you're a 
good undertaker. Any one with half an eye could see 
as how you knocks 'em up solid." 


But Mipps didn't encourage Mrs. Waggetts when 
she was pleased to flatter, so he would take himself off 
in high dudgeon to avoid her further attentions. 

This actual conversation took place one November 
afternoon, and the sexton, after slamming the inn door 
to give vent to his irritation, hurried along the sea-wall 
toward his shop, comforting himself that he could sit 
snug inside a coffin and cheer himself up with hammer- 
ing it. 

On the way he met Doctor Syn, who was standing 
silhouetted against the skyline with his telescope fo- 
cussed upon some large vessel that was standing in off 

*'Ah, Mr. Mipps," said the cleric, handing his tele- 
scope to the sexton, "tell me what you make of that.'^" 

Mipps adjusted the lens and looked. "The devil!" 
he ejaculated. 

"I beg your pardon.^^" said the Doctor. "What did 
you say .^" 

One of the King's preventer men had come out of his 
cottage and was approaching them. 

"I don't make no head nor tale of it," replied the 
sexton. "Perhaps you do, sir.^" 

"Well, it looks to me," continued the parson, "it — 
looks — to — me — uncommonly like a King's frigate. 
Can't you make out her guns on the port side.'^" 

"Yes! "cried the sexton; "I'll be hanged if you're 
not right, sir; it's a damned King's ship as ever was." 


"Mr. Mipps," corrected the parson, **again I must 
ask you to repeat your remark." 

"I said, sir," replied the sexton, meekly handing 
back the glass, "that you're quite right: it's a King's 
ship, a nice King's ship!" 

"And she's standing in, too," went on the parson. 
"I can make her out plainly now, and, good gracious! 
she's lowering a long-boat!" 

"Oh!" said Mr. Mipps, "I wonder wot that's for.^" 

"A revenue search," volunteered the preventer. 

Mipps started. He hadn't seen the preventer. 

"Hello!" he said, turning round; "didn't know you 
was there. Sir Francis Drake. What do you make of 
that there ship.^" 

"A King's frigate," replied the preventer man. 
"She's sending a boat's crew ashore." 

"What for.f^" asked the sexton. 

"I told you: a revenue search; to look for smugglers." 

"Smugglers," laughed the parson, "here in Dym- 

"Aye, sir, so they say. Smugglers here in Dym- 

"God bless my soul!" exclaimed the parson incred- 

"How silly!" said the sexton. 

"That remains to be seen. Mister," retorted the 

"What do you say.^^" said the sexton. 


**I say, Mister, it remains to be seen." 

"'Course it does!" went on the sexton. "Let's 
have another blink at her. Well," he said at length, 
closing the telescope with a snap, and returning it, 
"Eang's ship or no, they looks to me more like a set of 
mahogany pirates, and I'm a-goin'to lock up the church. 
King's men's one thing, but havin' the plate took's 
another, and one that I don't fancy, being held respon- 
sible; so good afternoon, sir" — touching his hat to the 
vicar — "and good afternoon to you, Christopher 
Columbus." And with this little pleasantry, which 
struck him as being the height of humour, the grotesque 
little man hopped off at high speed in the direction of 
the inn. 

"Odd little man that, sir," said the preventer. 

"Very odd little man," said the vicar. 



MEANTIME the little sexton had arrived, 
breathless and panting, at the inn. Here he 
was accosted with a breezy, "Hello, Mr. 
Mipps, where's the Doctor?" The speaker was Denis 
Cobtree the only son of the squire. 

This young worthy of some eighteen summers was 
being prepared in the paths of learning by the vicar 
with a view to his entering the university; but Denis, 
like his father before him, cared very little for books, 
and the moment the Doctor's back was turned, off he 
would slip to talk to some weather-beaten seaman, or 
to attempt a flirtation with Imogene, the dark-haired 
girl who assisted the landlady at the inn. 

"Just been talkin' to the vicar on the sea-wall," said 
Mipps, hurrying past into the parlour and calling 
loudly for Mrs. Waggetts. 

"What do you want?" said that good lady, issuing 
from the kitchen with a teapot in her hand. Tea was 
the luxury she indulged in. 

"A word," answered the sexton, pushing her back 
into the kitchen and shutting the door behind him. 



"Whatever is it?" asked the landlady in some alarm. 

"What's the time?" demanded the sexton. 

"A quarter to four," replied Mrs. Waggetts, turning 

"Good!" said the sexton. "School will be closing in 
a minute or two, so send Imogene round there to ask 
Mr. Rash to step across lively as soon as he's locked up. 
But no" — he added thoughtfully — "I forgot: Rash is a 
bit struck on the girl and they'll linger on the way; send 
young Jerk, the potboy." 

"Jerk's at school hisself," said Mrs. Waggetts. 

"Then you go," retorted the sexton. 

"No," faltered the landlady. "It's all right, I'll 
send the girl; for she can't abide Rash, so I'll be bound 
she won't linger. And while she's gone I'll brew you a 
nice cup of tea." 

"Throw your tea to the devil," snarled the sexton. 
"One 'ud think you was a diamond duchess the way 
you consumes good tea. When shall I knock into your 
skull that tea's a luxury — a drink wot's only meant 
for swells? Perhaps you don't know what a power of 
money tea costs!" 

"Come, now," giggled the landlady, "not to us. 
Mister Mipps. Not the way we gets it." 

"I don't know what you means," snapped the wary 
sexton. "But I do wish as how you'd practise a-keep- 
in' your mouth shut, for if you opens it much more 
that waggin' tongue of yours'll get us all the rope." 


"Whatever is the matter?" whimpered the land- 

"Will you do as I tell you?" shrieked the sexton. 

**0h, Lord!" cried Mrs. Waggetts, dropping the 
precious teapot in her agitation and running out of the 
back door toward the school. Mipps picked up the 
teapot and put it on the table; then lighting his short 
clay pipe he waited by the window. 

In the bar sat Denis Cobtree, making little progress 
with a Latin book that was spread open on his knee. 
From the other side of the counter Imogene was watch- 
ing him. 

She was a tall, slim, wild creature, this Imogene, 
dressed as a fisher, with a rough brown skirt and a 
black fish blouse, and she wore neither shoes nor stock- 
ings. Her hair was long and her eyes black. She had 
no parents living, for her father — none other than the 
notorious pirate Clegg — had been hanged at Rye — 
hanged publicly by the redcoats for murder; and the 
mother — well, no one knew exactly who the mother 
was, Clegg having lived a wild and roving life; but it 
was evident that she must have been a southerner, 
from the complexion and supple carriage of this girl — 
probably some island woman of the Southern Seas. 
Imogene was a great favourite with all the men on 
account of her good looks and her dauntless courage 
when on the boats at sea; for she loved the sea and was 
wonderful upon it — ^her dark eyes flashing, her hair blow- 


ing wild, and her young bosom heaving with the thrill 
of fighting the waves. 

Imogene liked Denis because he was nice to her, and, 
besides, he made her laugh : he was so funny. His ways 
were so funny, his high manners were so very funny, 
but his shyness attracted her most. 

He was shy now because they were alone, and the 
boy knew that she was watching him; so he made a 
feint of studying his book of Latin, but Imogene could 
see that his mind was not on his reading. 

"You don't get on very fast, Mr. Denis," she said. 

Denis looked up from the book and laughed. "No," 
he said, "not very, I'm afraid; I'm not very fond of 

"What are you fond of.^" said the girl, leaning across 
the bar on her bare elbows. 

"Oh, what a chance to say *you'!" thought the 
young man; but somehow the words wouldn't come, so 
he stammered instead: "Oh, nothing much. I like 
horses rather; yes, I like riding." 

"Is that all.?" said the girl. 

"About all," said the boy. 

"Mr. Rash, the schoolmaster, tells me that he likes 
riding," went on the girl mischievously; "he also likes 
books; he reads very fast, much faster than you do." 

"Not Latin books, I'll be bound," said young Denis, 
starting up scarlet with rage, for he hated the school- 
master, in whom he saw a possible rival to the girl's 


affection. "And as for riding," he cried, "a pretty 
fellow that to talk of riding, when he doesn't know the 
difference 'tween a filly and a colt. He sits on an old 
white scrag-bones, jogs along the road at the rate of 
dyke water, and calls it riding. Put the fool on a horse 
and he'd be skull under the hoofs before he'd dug his 
heels in. The man's a coward, too. I've heard tales 
of the way he uses the birch only on the little boys. 
Why, if they'd any sense they'd all mutiny and kick 
him round the schoolhouse." 

" You're very hard on the schoolmaster, Mr. Denis," 
said the girl. 

'* You don't like him, do you.^" asked the boy seriously. 
"You can't!" 

But the girl only laughed, for into the bar-parlour 
had come Mrs. Waggetts, accompanied by the gentle- 
man under discussion, and followed by young Jerk, the 

Jerry Jerk, though only a lad of a dozen years, 
possessed two excellent qualifications : pluck and a head 
like a bullet. He had got through his schooling so far 
without a taste of the birch: not that he hadn't deserved 
it, but the truth was — Mr. Rash was afraid of him, for 
he once had rapped the little urchin very severely on 
the head with his knuckles, so hard, indeed, that the 
blood had flowed freely, but not from Master Jerk's 
head — oh, no : from the teacher's knuckles — upon which 
young Jerry had burst into a peal of laughter, stoutly 


declaring before the whole class that when he grew up 
he intended to be a hangman, just for the pleasure of 
pulling the bolt for the schoolmaster. So ever after 
Jerry went by the name of *' Hangman Jerk," and when- 
ever the pale, washy eye of the sandy-haired Mr. Rash 
fell on him, the schoolmaster pictured himself upon a 
ten-foot gallows with that fiend of a youngster adjust- 
ing the running noose around his scraggy neck. 

This young ruffian, entering on the heels of the 
schoolmaster, and treading on them hard at every step, 
took over the bar from the fish girl, Mr. Rash remarking 
with a show of sarcasm that "he hoped he didn't in- 
terrupt a pleasant conversation, and that if he did 
he was more sorry than he could say to Mr. Denis 

Denis replied that he shared the schoolmaster's 
sorrow himself with a full heart, but the door being 
open, he — the schoolmaster — could easily go out as 
quickly as he had come in. At this young Jerk let fly 
a loud guffaw and doubled himself up behind the bar, 
laughing. Upon this instant the conversation was 
abruptly interrupted by the head of Mr. Mipps appear- 
ing round the kitchen door, inquiring whether it was 
their intention to keep him waiting all night. 

*' Quite right, IVIr. ^Vlipps, quite right!" retorted the 
schoolmaster, and then turning to Imogene, he said: 
"Mr. Mipps wants us at once." Denis was about to 
make an angry retort, but Imogene passed him and went 


into the kitchen, followed by Mrs. Waggetts and the 
sandy-haired Rash, that gentleman carefully shutting 
the door behind him. 

Denis now found himself alone with young Jerk. The 
would-be hangman was helping himself to a thimble of 
rum, and politely asked the squire's son to join him; 
but Denis refused with a curt: "No, I don't take 

"No.^" replied the lad of twelve years. "Oh, you 
should. When I feels regular out and out, and gets fits 
of the morbids, you know, the sort of time when you 
feels you may grow up to be the hanged man and not 
the hangman, I always takes to myself a thimble of 
neat rum. Rum's the drink for Britons, Mister Cobtree. 
Rum's wot's made all the best sailors and hangmen in 
the realm." 

"If you go on drinking at this rate," replied Denis, 
"you'll never live to hang that schoolmaster." 

"Oh," answered Jerry thoughtfully, "oh. Mister 
Denis, if I thought there was any truth in that, I'd 
give it up. Yes," he went on with great emphasis, as 
if he were contemplating a most heroic sacrifice, "yes, 
I'd give up even rum to hang that schoolmaster, and it's 
a hanging what'll get him, and not old Mipps, the coflSn 

Denis laughed at his notion and crossed to the 
kitchen door listening. " What can they be discussing in 
there so solemnly.^" he said, more to himself than to his 


companion. But Jerry Jerk tossed off the pannikin of 
rum, clambered on the high stool behind the bar, and 
leaned across the counter, fixing Denis with a glance 
full of meaning. 

"Mister Cobtree," he whispered fearfully, "you are 
older than I am, but I feel somehow as if I can give you 
a point or two, because you've got sense. I'm a man of 
Kent, I am, and I'm going to be a hangman sooner or 
later, but above all I belongs to the Marsh and under- 
stands her, and them as understands the Marsh — well, 
the Marsh understands them, and this is what she says 
to them as understands her : * Hide yourself like I do 
under the green, until you feels you're ready to be real 
mud.' I takes her advice, I do; I'm under the green, I 
am, but I can be patient, because I knows as how some 
day I'll be real dirt. You can't be real dirt all at once; 
so keep green till you can; and if I has to keep green for 
years and years, I'll get to mud one day, and that'll be 
the day to hang that Rash and cheat old Mipps of his 
body." And to encourage himself in this resolve Jerry 
took another thimbleful of rum. 

"I'm afraid I can't follow you," said Denis. 

"Don't try to," repHed the youngster, "don't try to. 
You'll get it in time. The Marsh'll show you. She 
takes her own time, but she'll get you out of the green 
some day and ooze you up through the sluices, and then 
you'll be a man o' Kent, and no mistaking you." 

Denis, not able to make head or tail of this effusion, 


laughed again, which brought Jerry Jerk with a bound 
over the bar. 

" See here, Mister Cob tree," he hissed, coming close to 
him; "I likes you; you're the only one in the village I 
does like. Oh, I'm not wanting anything from you; 
I'm just speaking the truth — you're the only one in the 
village I haven't hanged in my mind, and, what's more 
to the point, you won't blab if I tell you (but there, I 
know you won't), you're the only one in the village I 
couldnH get hanged F^ 

"What on earth do you mean?" said the squire's 

"What I've said," replied the urchin, "just what I've 
said, and not another word do you get from me but this : 
listen! Do you hear that sexton in there a-mumbling? 
Well, what's he mumbling about? Ah, you don't know, 
and I don't know (leastways not exactly), but there's one 
who does. Come over here," and he led Denis to the 
back window and pointed out over Romney Marsh. "She 
knows, that there Marsh. She knows everything about 
this place, and every place upon her. Why, I'd give up 
everything I've got or shall get in this world, every- 
thing — except that schoolmaster's neck — to know all 
she knows, 'cos she knows everything, Mister Cob tree, 
everything, she does. In every house there's murmur- 
ings and mumblings a-going on, and in every dyke out 
there there's the same ones, the very same ones a- 
going. You can hear 'em yourself, Mister Cobtree, if 


you stands amongst 'em. You try. But, oh. Mister 
Denis" — and he grabbed his arm imploringly — "don't 
try to understand them dykes at night. She don't 
talk then, she don't; she does — she just does then. She 
does all wot the mumbles and murmurs have whis- 
pered to do; and it's death on the Marsh at night. I 
found that out," he added proudly. "Do you know 

"How?" queried Denis. 

" By going out on her in the day, and gradually getting 
used to wot she says; that's how; and that's the only 

Just then a most infernal noise arose from the front 
of the inn, and before Denis had disengaged himself 
from the earnest clutches of his guardian angel, and 
before the murmurs of ]Mr. IVIipps had ceased in the 
kitchen, the bar was swarming with seamen — sailors — 
rough mahogany men with pigtails and brass rings, 
smelling of tar and, much to the admiration of Jerk, 
reeking of rum, filling the room with their jostling, 
spitting, and laughing, and their calls on the potboy to 
serve 'em with drink. But their entrance was so sudden, 
their appearance so startling, and their behaviour so 
alarming, that the young hangman was for the moment 
off his guard, for there he stood open-mouthed and 
awestruck, watching the giants help themselves freely 
from the great barrels. To Denis they had come with 
no less surprise. He had seen preventer men before; 


he had many friends among the fishermen, but these 
were real sailors, men-o'-war, who had lived through a 
hundred sea-fights, and seen hellfire on the high seas — 
real sailors, King's men. Yes, the King's men had come 
to Dymchurch. 



JUST as suddenly as the pandemonium had begun, 
just so suddenly did it cease, for there strode 
through the door a short, thick-set man, with a 
bull neck and a red face, a regular rough fighting dog, 
who, by his dress and the extraordinary effect he pro- 
duced upon the men, Denis and Jerk at once knew to be 
an officer. 

"Bo'sun," he said in a thick voice, addressing one of 
the sailors, "in a quarter of an hour pipe the men out- 
side the inn, and we'll see to the billeting. Meantime 
make 'em pay for their drinks and no chalking. Hi, 
youngster!" he cried, catching hold of young Jerk by 
the ear, "if you're the potboy, tumble round behind 
and look after your job." Jerk, mentally consigning 
him to the gibbet, did as he was ordered, for his ear was 
hurting horribly. 

"And now, sir," went on the officer, addressing 
himself to Denis, "is there anyone in this law-forsaken 
hole who can answer questions in King's English .?" 

"Certainly, sir," said Denis proudly, "if they are 
asked with a civil tongue. I am Denis Cobtree, and 



my father, the squire, is the best-known man on Romney 

"Then," ordered the seadog curtly, "fetch him along 
here quick ! " 

"Really, sir," retorted Denis hotly, "I do not think 
you would afford him sufficient interest. He has not 
the honour of your acquaintance, and I am bound to 
consider that he'll have no great zeal to make it!" 

"Nor I, neither," said Mr. Mipps, who had been 
looking round the kitchen door. "I don't like his 

The infuriated officer was inside the kitchen like a 
hurricane, glaring at the little sexton with all the con- 
densed fury of the British navy. 

"What's this.^" he said, addressing himself again to 
Denis, who had followed him into the kitchen to be 
quit of the crowd of seamen. "I suppose you'll tell me 
that this shrivelled up little monkey is a squire's son 
too, eh?" 

"A squire's son!" repeated the sexton. "Oh, well, 
if I is, I ain't come into my title yet." 

"Don't you play the fool with me, sir!" thundered 
the King's man. 

"And don't you try the swagger with me, sir ! "volleyed 
back the sexton. 

"The swagger with you, sir?" exploded the officer. 

"Right, sir," exclaimed the sexton, "that's what I 
said — the swagger, sir!" 


But the other swallowed his wrath and announced 
coldly : 

"I am Captain Colly er. Captain Howard Colly er, 
coast agent and commissioner; come ashore to lay a 
few of ycu by the heels, I've no doubt." 

"Oh! is that all?" replied the sexton with a sigh of 
relief. "Well, there, I have been mistook. I'd quite 
made up my mind that you was the Grand Turk or at 
least the Lord Rear Admiral of the Scilly Isles." 

Ignoring the sexton's humour, the captain turned to 
Denis and said : ' ' Who is this person ? ' ' 

But Mipps was not so easily crushed, and he cried: 
"A man to be looked up to in these parts. I under- 
takes for the district. The only one wot does it for 
miles round. They all comes to me, rich and poor alike, 
I tells you; for they know that Mipps knocks 'em up 

"Knocks what up solid.^^" demanded the captain 

" Coffins up solid," replied the sexton promptly. 
|( "Coffins!" repeated the captain. "Oh, you're a 
coffin-maker, are you.^ Yes, you look it. Thought you 
might be the landlord of this run-amuck old inn here. 
That's the man I want. \Miere can I find him.^" 

Mipps pointed out of the window toward the church. 

"Up in the churchyard," he said. 

"What's he doing in the churchyard.'^" demanded the 


Mipps came right up to him and whispered in this ear 
the significant word, "Worrmnps!" 

** What? " shouted the captain, who didn't understand. 

**Sh!" said Mipps, pointing across at Mrs. Waggetts, 
who had begun to weep into her apron. "He's a-keep- 
in' 'em out." 

"Keeping who out.'^" snapped the captain. 

* ' I keep teUing y ou, " repHed the sexton . * ' Worrumps ! ' ' 

"Danged if I can make out what you say." The 
captain's patience was well-nigh exhausted. "Go and 
fetch the landlord!" he ordered. 

"Oh, would that he could," sobbed Mrs. Waggetts. 
"Oh, dear, oh, dear!" 

The captain turned on her with an oath. "What's 
the matter with you, my good woman?" he said. 

"That good woman is the landlord," volunteered 
Mr. Mipps. 

"You exasperating little liar!" shouted the captain, 
seizing the enigmatical sexton and shaking him violently; 
"you said the landlord was in the churchyard a minute 

"A minute ago!" cried the breathless undertaker. 
"Why, he's been there a year and a half, and there he'll 
stop till as wot time as they gets him. Though I must 
say I gave him the best pine and knocked him up solid 
with my own hands — 

"Released from Missus Waggetts 
I left him to the maggots — 


and there's Waggetts, and she's the landlord," and the 
sexton, chuckling with delight at his ready wit, pointed 
to the still weeping landlady. 

"Well, ma'am," said the captain, coming to the 
point at once, "you must really blame yourself if your 
scores are not settled. A little potboy who has to 
stand on tiptoe to look over the bar is not the sort of 
person to prevent people helping themselves; and that's 
what my seadogs are doing now — helping themselves." 

Mrs. Waggetts, with a scream, rushed from the 
kitchen, followed by Imogene, the sexton and the 
schoolmaster being glad enough to follow their example 
and so escape from the bullying captain, who was now 
left alone with Denis. 

"Now, then, Mr. Squire's son, listen to me," he said. 

"My name is Denis Cobtree," returned the young 
man. "The name Cobtree is well enough known upon 
the Marsh to be remembered by a sea captain." 

"Look here, young fellow," said the officer warningly, 
"I am here representing the law, commissioned by 
King George." 

"I have heard that the King's taste may be called in 
question," Denis replied. 

"I can prove to you otherwise," returned the captain, 
"for it so happens that Captain Colly er holds the ma- 
jority for stringing up smugglers. I have sent more 
from the coast to the sessions than any of his Majesty's 
agents. And stap my vitals, I believe I have landed on a 


perfect hornets' nest here. Now tell me, sir," he went 
on with that tone of authority that Denis found so ut- 
terly aggressive, **what do you know of the smuggling 
business in these parts? I have small doubt but that 
your father finds the business a pretty valuable asset to 
his land revenues, eh? I warrant me half goes to your 
own pockets and the rest to the lost cause of the Jaco- 

The captain was becoming insulting, so Denis took 
great pains to hold his temper in check. "Let me tell 
you, sir," he said, "in the first place, my father is no 
Jacobite, no, nor yet his father before him. My people 
were instrumental in bringing across William of Orange. 
Although my father has withdrawn from political 
strife, he is still a profound Whig; and on that score he 
and I have but Httle sympathy together; for I stoutly 
affirm that the Dutchman had no right whatever in 
England, and I never lose an opportunity of drinking 
to our King over the water, and praying for a speedy 

" You just bear in mind, young man," said the captain, 
"that the '45 was not so very long ago. I am here to 
look for smugglers, not royalists, but there's still a 
price on their heads, so you should keep whatever 
opinions you may hold to yourself." 

" If you are really here to look for smugglers," said 
Denis, scorning his threat, "you must first take pains to 
curry favour with my father, for he is the head of our 


jurisdiction. The Marsh has its own laws, sir; and 
you will find to your inconvenience, I fear, that the 
'Leveller of the Marsh Scotts'* is a big power." 

"I hold my commission from the King's Admiralty, 
and that's enough for me," laughed the captain, "and 
for Marshmen, too, as you'll find." 

But Denis replied: "Possibly, sir, you have not heard 
of the old saying, that *The world is divided into five 
parts — Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Romney 
Marsh.' We are independent on the Marshes." 

"The Act of Parliament," retorted the captain 
largely, "brought in by the late King William against 
all smugglers will cook that goose, young sir." 

"Ah, well," said Denis finally, "it's no odds to me; 
but let me tell you this: Your King George may rule 
Whitehall, but my father rules Romney Marsh," and 
humming an old royalist tune, much to the annoyance 
of the captain, the young man sauntered out of the inn. 

* The old title of Head Magistrate on the Marsh. 



LEFT to himself, the captain rapidly examined 
the kitchen; then going to the door that led to 
-^ the bar-parlour, he called out: "Bo'sun, come 
in here, and bring that mulatto with you." 

The bo'sun answered with alacrity, pushing before 
him into the kitchen an altogether horrible apparition : 
a thin mulatto in the dress of a navy cook. His skin 
was cracked like parchment and drawn tightly over the 
prominent cheekbones. His black eyes shone brightly, 
and the lids turned up at the corners like those of a 
Chinaman. The unusual brilliance of these eyes may 
have been accounted for by the scrags of pure white 
hair that grew from the skull. These were bound at 
the back into a thin pigtail, leaving the sides of the 
head bare, and it must have been this that gave him 
that curiously revolting look, for the foreigner had no 
ears. Another terrible thing about him was that he 
could not speak, for his tongue had been cut out by the 
roots. He had evidently suffered much, this cook. 
"Job Mallet," said the captain, when the door was 

shut, ** we have now got this room to ourselves, and as 



there is no time like the present, turn that white-haired 
old spider of yours on to the floor and walls. This 
panelling seems likely." 

"The bo'sun approached the mulatto, and jabbered 
some weird lingo into his ear-hole, which immediately 
made the uncouth figure hop about the room, spreading 
his lean arms along the panels, which he kept tapping 
with his fingers, at the same time executing a curious 
tattoo with his bare feet upon the floor. In this fashion 
he encircled the room twice, apparently without achiev- 
ing any result. In the corner of the room was fixed a 
wooden table with a heavy flap which reached nearly to 
the ground. LTpon this table was a large assortment 
of cooking utensils, while underneath, almost entirely 
hidden by the flap, there reposed a like collection of 
buckets, pails, and old saucepans. 

The mulatto, after his double journey round the 
room, turned his attention to this table. He struck the 
flap up and, pushing aside the pots and pans, uttered a 
strange, excited gurgle. 

**Ha! ha!" said the captain to the bo'sun, "your 
spider has caught a fly, eh.^^" 

Job Mallet looked under the table and saw the 
mulatto pulling desperately at a brass ring that was 
fixed to the floor. Pushing him aside, the bo'sun 
had pulled up a trap and was descending a flight 
of steps before the captain had even locked both the 


"What is it?" he whispered; for the bo'sun had 
entirely disappeared. 

"Here you are, sir," said the sailor, reappearing with 
a bottle in his hand. " There's a wine-cellar down there 
the size of an admiral's cabin." 

"Oh!" replied the captain. "Well, like enough it's 
the regular cellar." 

"Then why should they be at such pains to hide the 
entrance, sir.^^ " returned the bo'sun. 

"There's nothing in that," replied the captain. " It's 
natural that they don't want every Tom, Dick, and 
Harry going into the wine-cellar." 

"I suppose it is, sir," agreed the bo'sun, "but it 
looks a costly bottle, though it could do with a bit of a 
shine," he added, spitting on it and giving it a vigorous 
rub with his sleeve. 

"Let's look at the label," said the captain. " *Alsace 
Lorraine, T\Tiite, Rare 500.' WTiat on earth does '500' 

"The date, sir," ejaculated the bo'sun; "it's the date. 
My eye ! that's enough to give a man a bad head. It's 
over a thousand years old." 

"Nonsense, my man," said the captain, laughing. 
"It means that this bottle is one of a cargo of ^ve 

"Of course," said the bo'sun, slapping his knee. 
"What a thundering old idiot I am, to be sure. You're 
right, sir, as you always are, for I see the other four 


hundred and ninety-nine down below there. But," he 
added ruefully, "we've got no proof that they're 

"We'll soon get that," said the captain, thrusting the 
bottle into the capacious skirt pocket of his sea-coat. 
"Put these things back, and summon the landlady." 

Then the captain unlocked the door and quietly 
opened it. 

Coming up quickly from a stooping position near the 
keyhole was Mr. Mipps, the sexton. 

"You're a fine fellow," he said, not at all put out of 
countenance by the captain having found him eaves- 
dropping, "a very fine fellow to come lookin' for 
smuggling, with a gang o' blasphemous scoundrels wot 
kick up more to-do than the Tower of Babel. Look 
here, sir, are you coming in to keep order or not? I 
only want a word, Yes or No, for I shall go straight 
round to the Court House and report you to the squire. 
And then p'raps he won't put you and your crew into 
the cells there; p'raps he won't — only pWaps, 'cos I'm 
dead sure he will." 

"What are my boys doing?" laughed the captain. 

"Wliat are the little dears not doing?" answered the 
sexton, thoroughly angry. "Oh, nothing, I assure you! 
Only upsetting the barrels, throwin' about the tankards, 
stealin' the drinks, and makin' fun of Missus Waggetts." 

"Oh, that's all right," said the captain. "Tell Mrs. 
Waggetts to come here." 


"You tell worse men than yourself to do your dirty 
work," replied the sexton. "Do you think I'm a 
powder monkey that I should fetch and carry Missus 
Waggetts for you? Fetch her yourself, or send old 
fat-sides there," he added, jerking his thumb at the 
bo'sun, "or that dear old white-haired admiral wot's 
lost his yellow ear-flaps. As for me, I'm a-goin' to the 
Court House, and if you don't know what for, you'll 
soon learn — you and old fat-sides." The bo'sun made 
a grab at him, but Mipps slipped through the crowded 
bar and was running up the highroad. 

The captain now stepped into the bar. Order was at 
once restored. "Now, ma'am," he said to Mrs. Wag- 
getts, "while the bo'sun is seeing that your score is paid, 
give me a bottle of wine." 

"Port or claret, sir?" said the landlady. 

"Neither," said the captain. "I have a fancy to try 
a bottle of Alsatian. Yes, a white wine from Alsace 

But before the captain had time to smack his lips 
Mrs. Waggetts replied: "Oh, we don't keep that, sir." 

"No?" queried the captain. 

"No, indeed, sir," said the landlady. "You see 
there's no call for it in these parts. And then the 
customs are so high we couldn't afford to stock it for 
the few and far betweens as might ask for it. Why, for 
my own part, sir, though I've been in the business these 
— well, many years now, I've never even heard of it." 


** Really ! " said the captain. " Well, it's a good wine, 
ma'am. Now, bo'sun, pipe the men outside." 

"Won't you try a bottle of claret, sir?" said the 
landlady with persuasion. 

"No," said the captain, "later on, perhaps. I'll see. 
By the way, is there any old barn about where I could 
quarter my men? I'm loath to billet them on the 

"No, I don't know anywhere," returned the land- 
lady. "Do you, Mr. Rash.^ Perhaps you'd loan the 
schoolhouse to the captain.^^" 

"Yes, and give us a holiday for once in a way!" 
chimed in the potboy. 

"It's not to be thought of," said the schoolmaster, 
walking out of the inn. 

"No one uses the church on weekdays, I suppose," 
said the captain. "I daresay there's room for them 
there, in the vestry or the tower perhaps, or even in the 

"Them drunken ruffians in the church!" cried out 
young Jerk, pulling a horrified face, and indicating the 
rough sailors who were now outside the inn. "You'd 
better watch out what you're up to, or you'll have the 
vicar on your track." 

"I'll tell you where you'll end, my lad," said the 
captain, turning on him sharply. 

"Where, sir.^^" said young Jerk, looking really in- 


"If not upon the scaffold, uncommon near it, I'll be 
bound," the captain replied. 

"I hope so indeed," thought Hangman Jerk, "and 
I hopes it'll be a-fixing the noose around your bull neck." 
But he kept this thought to himself, for he suddenly 
remembered that the captain could be rather too play- 
ful for his liking; so he watched the sailors shouldering 
their bundles, falling into line, and eventually swinging 
out of the old Ship Inn, followed by the captain. 



YOU can imagine that the coming of the King's 
men caused some stir in Dymchurch; for after 
leaving the Ship Inn they were marched round 
the village and drawn up in front of the Court House. 
Here they waited while the captain knocked upon the 
front door and asked for the squire. 

"Sir Antony Cobtree is out riding," said the butler. 
But at that instant a clattering of hoofs was heard upon 
the highway and the squire himself came along at an 
easy trot and drew rein before the house. " My faith ! " 
he cried, looking from the butler to the captain, and 
then at the line of naked cutlasses. "Have the French 
landed at last.^^" 

"Captain Howard CoUyer of the King's Admiralty, 
sir," said the captain, saluting, "and if you are the 
squire, very much at your service." 

The jolly squire returned the salute, touching his hat 
with his riding whip. "Indeed, Captain?" he said, 
dismounting. "And I would prefer to be your friend 
than your foe so long as you have these sturdy fellows 
at your back. Is it the renewed activity of the French 



navy that we have to thank for your presence here, or 
the coast defence?" 

" I should Hke a word with you alone/' said the captain. 

"Certainly," returned the squire, throwing the reins 
to a groom and leading the way to the house. 

They crossed the large hall, and the squire, opening a 
door at the far end, invited the captain to enter the library. 

There in the recess of the old mullioned window sat 
Doctor Syn, deep in a dusty tome that he had taken 
from the bookcase. 

"Ah, Doctor," said the squire, "they didn't tell me 
you were here. No further need to fear the French 
fleet. The King's Admiralty has had the kind grace 
to furnish us with an officer's complement. Captain 
Colly er — Doctor Syn, our vicar." 

"Not the Collyer who sank the Lion d^Or at the 
mouth of the St. Lawrence River, I suppose.^^" he said, 
shaking hands. 

"The same," returned the captain, highly delighted 
that the achievement of his life had been heard of by 
the parson. "Captain Howard Collyer then, com- 
manding the Resistance, a brigantine of twenty-two 
guns. Indeed, sir, the French Government kicked up 
such a devil of a row over that little affair that I lost 
my command. So now, instead of sinking battleships, 
the Admiralty keeps me busy nosing out smugglers; a 
poor enough game for a man who has done big things 
at sea, but it has its excitements." 


"So I should imagine," said the cleric. 

"And what have you come here for?" asked the 

"To hang every smuggler on Romney Marsh," said 
the captain. 

"Do you believe in ghosts?" said the squire. 

"AMiat do you mean?" retorted the captain. 

" \Miat I say," returned the squire. " Do you beheve 
in ghosts?" 

"Well, I can't say I do," laughed the captain, "for I 
have never yet met one." 

"No more have I," returned the squire. "But they 
say the Marsh is haunted at night. They've said so so 
long that people believe it. WTienever a traveller loses 
his way on the Marsh and disappears, folk say that the 
Marsh witches have taken him. When the harvests 
are bad, when the wool is poor, when the cattle are 
sicklv, oh, it's alwavs the Marsh witches that are blamed. 
They set fire to haystacks, they kill the chickens, they 
blast the trees, they curdle the milk, and hold up 
travellers and rob them of their purses. In fact all the 
vices of the Marsh, really performed by Master Fox, or 
]\Iaster Careless, or Master Footpad, are all put down to 
the poor Marsh witches, who don't exist except in the 
minds of the people. I know the Marshes as well as 
any man ever will, and I've never seen a witch, and it's 
the very same with smugglers. The whole thing's a 
fallacy. I've never caught 'em at it; and I keep a stern 


enough eye on my farms, I can tell you. Why, I'm a 
positive king, sir. Do you know that if a man working 
in the neighbourhood doesn't please me, that I can shut 
every door of the Marsh against him? Why, these 
farmers are all scared stiff of me, sir. I'd like to see 
the man who went against the laws of Romney Marsh. 
I can tell you, sir, that I'd soon mark him down." 

"You are perhaps too confident, sir," suggested the 

"Not a bit of it, sir," exclaimed the squire. "Mind 
you I don't trust 'em, oh, Lord, no; I just know 'em to 
be honest, because I don't give 'em the chance to be 
otherwise. They never know when or where I'll be 
turning up. Why, I have a groom in my stables awake 
all night in case I want to surprise a farm ten miles 
away. Smugglers? Pooh! Rubbish!" 

"Then you consider that I am here on a wildgoose 
chase?" said the captain. 

"Not even that," said the squire; "for you will find 
no wild geese to chase. However, I don't think that 
you need regret having been sent here, for we can give 
you really good entertainment; and I'll bet my head that 
after you have stayed with us a week or so you'll be 
sending in your papers to the Admiralty, and settling 
down on the Marsh as a good Kentish farmer." 

"I'm afraid not, sir," laughed the captain. 

"Oh, yes, you will," went on the squire. "And I'll 
be bound that we'll have you bothering Doctor Syn to 


put the banns up for you and some country beauty. 
\^Tiat do you say, Doctor?" 

"Well," chuckled the cleric, entering into the joke, 
"if a man wants to marry and settle down, and live 
happily ever after, as the saying goes, why, then, Kent's 
the place for him. It's a great country, sir, expecially 
south and east of the Med way; famous for everything 
that goes to make life worth living." 

"Yes, take him on the whole," said the squire, "the 
King can boast of no greater jewel in the crown of 
England than the average man of Kent." 

"Well," agreed the captain, "I've heard say that 
Kent has fine clover fields, and it's evident to me that 
I'm a lucky devil and have fallen into one. But I must 
see to the billeting of my men. Perhaps you can ad- 
vise me?" But the squire wouldn't hear of business 
until the captain had cracked a bottle of wine with them 
and promised to lodge himself at the Court House, 
Doctor Syn readily placing the large brick-built vicar- 
age barn at the disposal of the men. 

So having settled all amicably, and promising to 
return within the hour for supper, the captain, piloted 
by Doctor Syn, and followed by the seamen, proceeded 
to inspect the barn; and it was not long before the 
sailors had converted it into as jolly an old hall as one 
could wish to see, with a great log-fire ablaze in the 
stone grate, and a pot of steaming victuals swinging 
from a hook above the flames. 


"Are you all here?" said the captain to the bo'sun, 
before rejoining the Doctor outside the door. 

"All except Bill Spiker and the mulatto, sir," re- 
turned Job Mallet. "I sent 'em for rum. Here they 
are, if I mistake not." And indeed up to the barn 
came two seamen carrying a barrel. 

"Now," said the captain to Doctor Syn, "I am 
ready to return to the Court House." 

But the cleric's eyes were fixed on the men carrying 
the barrel, who were passing him. "Who's that man?" 
he said to the captain, shivering violently, for a cold 
fog had risen with the night. 

"That's Bill Spiker the gunner," said the captain. 
"Do you know him?" 

"No — the other, the other," exclaimed the Doctor, 
still watching the retreating figures who were now 
being received with shouts of welcome from the barn. 

"Oh, that fellow's a mulatto," returned the captain; 
"useful for investigation work. An ugly enough look- 
ing rascal, isn't he? " 

"A very ugly rascal," muttered the Doctor, walking 
rapidly from the barn in the direction of the Court 

"You look cold," remarked the captain as they stood 
outside the Court House door. 

"Yes. It's a cold night," returned the Doctor. 
"WTiy, I declare my teeth are chattering." 



THERE was one man who knew Romney Marsh 
as well as the squire. This was Sennacherib 
Pepper, and, what's more, he knew the Marsh 
by night as well as by day, for he w^as the visiting phy- 
sician to the Marsh farms, and his work called him to 
patients sometimes at night. He had seen curious 
things upon the Marsh from his own account, hinting 
darkly about the witches and devils that rode on fiery 
steeds through the mists. The villagers, of course, 
believed his yarns, but the squire poohpoohed them, 
and, as it was well known that Sennacherib Pepper was 
a hard drinker, some people put his stories down to the 
effects of wine. But although he gave no credence 
to his tales. Sir Antony rather enjoyed the physician, 
and he was a frequent visitor to the Court House. 
He had prevailed upon him to stay to supper this 
very night, introducing him to the captain as his 
dear friend Sennacherib Pepper, the worst master of 
physics and the most atrocious liar on Romney 
Marsh, for although Sennacherib was a very touchy 
old customer and was ever on the brink of losing his 



temper, Sir Antony could never resist a joke at his 

*' Zounds, sir!" he retorted, "if I were presenting you 
to Sir Antony I should most certainly style him the 
worst business man upon the Marsh." 

"How do you make that out?" cried the squire. 

"My dear sir," went on Sennacherib to the captain, 
"his tenants rob him at every turn. Everybody but 
himself knows that half the wool from his farms finds its 
way over to Calais." 

"My dear Captain," said Doctor Syn, who was warm- 
ing himself at the fireplace, "our good friend Pepper is 
repeatedly coming into contact with the old gentleman 
himself upon the Marsh. Why, only last year he in- 
formed us that he met at least a score of his bodyguard 
riding in perfect style and most approved manner across 
from Ivychurch on fire-snorting steeds. And how 
many witches is it now that you have seen.^ A good 
round dozen, I'll be sworn; and they were riding 
straddle-legs, a thing that we could hardly credit." 

"Well, let us hope," said the physician, "that the 
presence of the Ejng's men will frighten the devils 
away. I've seen 'em, and I've no wish to see 'em again." 

"You can set your mind quite at rest, sir," returned 
the captain, "for if as you say their horses breathe fire, 
they will afford excellent targets on the flat Marsh. 
We'll hail the King's ship and see what ninety good guns 
can do for the devils." 


All through supper was this vein of humorous con- 
versation kept up, until when the meal was finished and 
pipes alight, and Denis had retired to his room with a 
glum face to steer most sorely against his will upon a 
course of literature, the conversation gradually drifted 
into the Southern Seas, and the captain began telling 
stirring tales of Clegg the pirate, who had been hanged 
at Rye. 

*'I should like to have been at that hanging," he 
cried, finishing a tale of horror, *'for the fellow, as you 
have just heard, was a bloodthirsty scoundrel." 

"So we have always heard," said Doctor Syn; "but 
don't you think that some of his exploits may have been 

"Not a bit of it," exclaimed the captain; "I believe 
everything I hear about that man, except that last 
blunder that put his neck into the noose at Rye." 

"That is his only exploit about w^hich there is any 
certainty," said the physician. 

"It was a mistake murdering that revenue man," 
agreed Doctor Syn, "but Clegg was drunk, and threw 
all caution to the devil." 

"Clegg had been drunk enough before," said the 
captain, "and yet he had never made a mistake. No, 
he was too clever to be caught in the meshes of a tavern 
brawl. Besides, from all we know of his former life, he 
would surely have put up a better defence at his trial; 
of course he would. You don't tell me that a man who 


could terrorize the high seas all that time was going to 
let himself swing for a vulgar murder in a Rye tavern." 

"But it is a noticeable thing," put in the cleric, 
" that all great criminals have made one stupid blunder 
that has caused their downfall." 

"Which generally means," went on the captain, 
"that up to that moment it was luck and not genius 
that kept them safe. But we know that Clegg was a 
genius. I've had it first hand from high Admiralty 
men; from men who have lived in the colonies and 
traded in Clegg's seas. The more I hear about that 
rascally pirate the more it makes me wonder; and some 
day I mean to give the time to clearing up the mystery." 

"What mystery?" said the cleric. 

"The mystery of how Clegg could persuade another 
man to commit wilful murder in order to take his name 
upon the scaffold," said the captain. "It takes some 
powers of persuasion to accomplish that, you'll agree." 

"What on earth do you mean? " said the cleric. 

"Simply this," ejaculated the captain, beating the 
table with his fist, "that Clegg was never hanged at 


There was a pause, and the gentlemen looked at him 
with grave faces. Presently the squire laughed. " Upon 
my soul, Captain," he said, "you run our friend Sen- 
nacherib here uncommon close with staggering state- 
ments. I wonder which of you will tell us first that 
Queen Anne is not dead." 


"Queen Anne is dead,'* exclaimed the captain, *' be- 
cause she was not fortunate enough to persuade some- 
body else to die for her. Now I maintain that this is 
exactly what Clegg did do." 

"Can you let us have the reasons that led you to this 
theory?" said the cleric, interested. 

"I don't see why not," replied the captain. "In the 
first place, the man hanged at Rye was a short, thick- 
set man, tattooed from head to foot, wearing enormous 
brass earrings, and his black hair cropped short as a 

"That's an exact description of him," said the par- 
son, "for, as everybody knows, I visited the poor wretch 
in his prison at Rye, and at his desire wrote out his final 
and horrible confession." 

"Is that so.^" said the captain. "Oh, yes, I remem- 
ber hearing of how he was visited by a parson. I 
thought it a bit incongruous at the time." 

"And so it was," agreed the parson, "for I have never 
seen a more unrepentant man go to meet his Maker." 

"Well, now," went on the captain, his eyes glistening 
with excitement, "I have it on very good authority that 
the real Clegg in no way answered this description: he 
was a weird -looking fellow; thin faced, thin legs, long 
arms, and, what's more to the point, was never tattooed 
in his life save once by some unskilled artist who had 
tried to portray a man walking the plank w^ith a shark 
waiting below. This picture was executed so poorly 


that the pirate would never let any one try again. Then 
I also have it on the very best evidence that Clegg's 
hair was gray, and had been gray since quite a young 
man; so that does away with your black, close-cropped 
hair. And again I have it that Clegg would never 
permit his ears to be pierced for brass rings, affirming 
that they were useless lumber for a seaman to carry." 

"Don't you think," said the squire, "that all this 
was a clever dodge to avoid discovery .^^ " 

"A disguise.^" queried the captain. "Yes, I confess 
that the same thing occurred to me." 

"And might I ask how you managed to obtain your 
real description of Clegg .f^" asked the vicar. 

"At first," said the captain, "from second or third 
sources; but the other day I got first-hand evidence from 
a man who had served aboard Clegg's ship, the Imogene. 
That ugly-looking rascal who was helping Bill Spiker 
carry the rum-barrel. The bo'sun questioned him for 
upward of three hours in his queer lingo, and managed 
to arrive, by the nodding and shaking of the man's head, 
at an exact description of him tallying with mine and 
yours" (glancing at Doctor Syn). 

"He was one of Clegg's men.? " said the vicar, amazed. 

"Then pray, sir, what is he doing in the royal navy.^^ " 

"I use him as tracker," replied the captain. "You 
know, some of these half-caste mongrels, mixtures of 
all the bad blood in the Southern Seas, have remarkable 
gifts of tracking. It's positively uncanny the way this 


rascal can smell out a trapdoor or a hiding-place. He's 
invaluable to me on these smuggling trips. I suppose 
you've nothing of the sort in this house.^" 

"There's a staircase leading to a priest's hole in this 
very chimney corner, though you would never guess at 
it," returned the squire. "And, what's more, I bet a 
guinea that nobody would discover it." 

"I'll lay you ten to one that the mulatto will; aye, 
and within a quarter of an hour!" 

"Done!" cried the squire. "This will be sport; 
we'll have him round," and he summoned the butler. 

"There's one condition I should have made," said 
the captain when the butler opened the door. "The 
rascal is dumb and cannot speak a word of English; but 
my bo'sun can speak his lingo and will make him under- 
stand what we require of him." 

"Fetch 'em both round," cried the squire. "Gad- 
zooks! it's a new sport this." 

The butler was accordingly dispatched with the 
captain's orders to the bo'sun that he should step round 
at once to the Court House with the mulatto. Mean- 
time, Denis was summoned from the paths of learning, 
and the terms of the wager having been explained to 
him, he awaited in high excitement the coming of the 

"How is it that the fellow's dumb?" asked the phy- 

"Tongue cut out at the roots, sir," replied the cap- 


tain. "He might well be deaf, too, for his ears are 
also gone, probably along with his tongue, but he's not 
deaf, he understands the bo'sun all right." 

"Did you ever find out how he lost them?" asked the 

"It was Clegg," replied the captain; "for after having 
been tortured in this pleasant fashion he was marooned 
upon a coral reef." 

"Good God!" said the vicar, going pale with the 
thought of it. 

"How did he get off?" asked the squire. 

"God alone knows," returned the captain. 

"Can't you get it out of him in some way?" said the 

"Job Mallet, the bo'sun, can't make him understand 
some things," said the captain, "but he located the 
reef upon which he'd been marooned in the Admiralty 
chart, and it's as God-forsaken a piece of rock as you 
could wish. No vegetation; far from the beat of ships; 
not even registered upon the mercantile maps. As well 
be the man in the moon as a man on that reef for all the 
chance you'd have to get off." 

" But he got off," said the squire. " How? " 

"That's just it," said the captain, "how? If you 
can find that out you're smarter than Job Mallet, who 
seems the only man who can get things out of him." 

"By Gad! I'm quite eager to look at the poor 
devil!" cried the squire. 


"So am I," agreed the physician. 

"And I'd give a lot to know how he got off that reef," 
said Doctor Syn. 

But at that instant the butler opened the door, and 
Job Mallet shuffled into the room, looking troubled. 

"Where's the mulatto?" said the captain sharply, for 
the bo'sun was alone. 

"I don't know, sir," answered the bo'sun sheepishly; 
"he's gone!" 

" Gone? Where to? " said the captain. 

" Don't know, sir," answered the bo'sun. " I see him 
curled up in the barn along of the others just afore I 
stepped outside to stand watch, and when I went to 
wake him to bring him along of me, why, blest if he 
hadn't disappeared." 

"Did you look for him?" said the captain. 

"Well, sir, I was a-lookin' for him as far down as to 
the end of the field where one of them ditches run," 
said the bo'sun, "when I see something wot fair beat 
anything I ever seed afore: it was a regiment of horse, 
some twenty of 'em maybe, but if them riders weren't 
devils, well, I ain't a seaman." 

"What were they like?" screamed Sennacherib. 

"Wild-looking fellows on horses wot seemed to snort 
out fire, and the faces of the riders and horses were all 
moonlight sort of colour, but before I'd shouted, 'Belay 
there!' they'd all disappeared in the mist." 

"How far away were these riders?" said the captain. 


"Why, right on top of me, as it seemed," stammered 
the bo'sun. 

"Job Mallet," said the captain, shaking his large 
finger at him, "I'll tell you what it is, my man: you've 
been drinking rum." 

"Well, sir," admitted the seaman, "it did seem 
extra good to-night, and perhaps I did take more than 
I could manage; though come to think of it, sir, I've 
often drunk more than I've swallowed to-night and not 
seen a thing, sir." 

"You get back to the barn and go to sleep," said the 
captain, "and lock the door from the inside; there's no 
need to stand watches to-night, and it won't do that 
foreign rascal any harm to find himself on the wrong 
side of the door for once." Job Mallet saluted and left 
the room. 

"You see what it comes to, Sennacherib," laughed 
the squire: "drink too much and you're bound to see 

"I don't believe that fellow has drunk too much," 
said the physician, getting up. " But I'm walking home, 
and it's late; time I made a start." 

"Mind the devils!" laughed the vicar as he shook 

"They'll mind me, sir," said Sennacherib as he 
grasped his thick stick. And so the supper party broke 
up: the squire lighting the captain to his room; Doctor 
Syn returning to the vicarage; and Sennacherib Pepper 


setting out for his lonely walk across the devil-ridden 

The window of the captain's room looked out upon 
the courtyard; he could see nothing of the sea, nothing 
of the Marsh. Now, as these were the two things he 
intended to see — aye, and on that very night — he 
waited patiently till the house was still; for he con- 
sidered that there was more truth in Sennacherib 
Pepper's stories than the squire allowed. Indeed, it 
was more than likely that the squire disallowed them 
for reasons of his own. This he determined to find out. 
So half an hour after the squire had bade him good- 
night he softly crossed the room to open the door. 

But the door was locked on the outside ! 



N^'OW Jerry lived with his grandparents, and 
they were always early to bed. Indeed, by ten 
o'clock they were both snoring loudly, while 
Jerry would be tucked up in the little attic dreaming of 
the gallows and hanging Mr. Rash. Jerry was troubled 
a good deal by dreams; but upon this particular night 
they were more than usually violent; whether owing to 
the great excitement caused by the coming of the King's 
men, or due to the extra doses of rum that the youngster 
had indulged in, who can say. He dreamt that he was 
out on the Marsh chasing the schoolmaster: that was all 
very well, quite a pleasant dream to young Jerk and not 
at all a nightmare, but unfortunately there were things 
chasing Jerry as well, and the nearer he seemed to get to 
the flying schoolmaster the nearer got the things behind 
him. There was no doubt at all in the dreamer's mind 
as to what they were, for they were the Marsh devils 
that he had heard about from infancy, the very 
demon riders that old Sennacherib Pepper was credited 
with having seen. He glanced over his shoulder and 
saw them pounding after him, grim riders on most 



ghastly steeds. The noise of the hoofs got nearer and 
nearer, and run as he would, he felt that he would never 
reach the schoolmaster before he himself was caught by 
the demons. Then in the dream the schoolmaster 
turned round, and Jerk with a scream saw that what he 
had been chasing was no longer the schoolmaster but 
the devil himself. So there he was between the demon 
riders and the very old gentleman that Doctor Syn 
preached about on Sundays. Now, although Jerry 
was no coward, he was not quite proof against such a 
shock as this, so he just uttered the most appalling 
scream and fell into a ditch that had suddenly appeared 
before him. The fall into the ditch was very hard, so 
hard, indeed, that the sleeper awoke to find that he was 
sitting on the floor with the bedclothes on top of him. 
But he was still uncertain whether or no he was awake, 
for although he rubbed his eyes exceedingly hard he 
could still hear the pounding hoofs of the demon horses, 
and they were coming nearer. He rubbed his eyes 
again, twisted his fingers into his ears, and listened. 
Yes, there was really no mistaking it, there were horses 
coming along the road before the house, and he was 
certain in his mind that they were the phantoms of his 
dream. So he went to the casement and looked out. 
Prepared for a surprise he certainly was, but not such a 
terrible one as he got. Along the road at a gallop went 
a score or so of horsemen: that they were not of this 
world was very easy to see, for there was moonlight 


shining from their faces and from the faces of the horses 
as well. 

The riders were fantastically dressed in black, and 
wore queer tall hats the like of which Jerry had only 
seen in ghost books. They were fine riders, too, for 
they seemed to the terrified boy actually to grow out 
of their horses. Jerry noticed, too, that there were long 
streamers of black flying from the harness. The curious 
light that shone upon the riders made it possible for 
Jerry to see their faces, which were entirely diabolical, 
for one and all were laughing as they rode. They were 
going at a good pace, so that as soon as they appeared, 
just so sudden did they go, and although Jerk opened 
the casement and hung out of the window, the mist had 
entirely swallowed the riders up, although he could still 
hear the distant noise of their horses. It sounded as 
if one of them was coming back. Yes, he was sure of 
it! So he very quickly shut the window again. The 
clatter of hoofs got louder, and presently Jerk, through 
the pane, caught sight of a rider trotting out of the mist. 
Now there seemed something familiar about this figure 
and the peculiar jogging of the steed; but the rider 
was well under the window before Jerk discovered that 
this was no demon, but the hated schoolmaster. What 
was he doing riding out at this hour, thought the young- 
ster? Was he in league with the spirits of the Marsh, 
and could he pass through them without being scared? 
For there was no other turning along the road, and the 


schoolmaster, although very repulsive to behold, was 
not looking in any way concerned; so Jerry came to the 
rapid conclusion that his deadly enemy was in some way 
or other connected with that mysterious band of horse. 
"So," he thought, "if he's up to mischief, I must find 
out what that mischief is, and if it's a hanging business, 
all the better." So quickly and silently Jerk pulled 
on his breeches and coat, and with his boots in his hand 
crept out upon the stairs. Everything was very still, 
and the creaks and cracks of the old oak were horrible, 
and then his grandfather did snore so very loud, and 
once just as he was entering the kitchen he heard his 
grandmother cry out: "Jerry, come here!" That 
nearly made him jump out of his skin, but he heard 
immediately afterward her wheezing snore mingled 
with those of her better half, so he concluded that she 
had only cried out in her sleep. In the kitchen he put 
on his boots, and just as he was opening the back door 
he heard the tall clock in the front room striking eleven. 
He left the door on the latch and, climbing through a 
hedge, struck out across the Marsh. He knew well 
enough that by running he could pick up the road again 
so as to be ahead of the rider; but it was difficult going 
at night, and by the time he had scrambled through the 
hedge again he saw the schoolmaster passing round at 
the back of Mipps's shop. There was still a light burn- 
ing in the front window, and after tying up his bony 
horse the schoolmaster entered the shop. "Wliat's 


he wanting at a coflSn shop at this hour? " thought Jerk. 
" I wish he was ordering his own, I do ! " And with this 
uncharitable thought he crept along the road and ap- 
proached the house. A coflSn shop isn't a pleasant 
thing to behold at night. Rows of coffin planks leaned 
up against the provision shelves, for Mipps supplied the 
village with bread and small eatables. A half-finished 
coffin reposed on trestles in the centre of the floor, and 
around the room hung every conceivable article that 
had to do with coffins. The atmosphere of coffins 
spread over everything in the store, and whether young 
Jerk looked at the bottles of preserves on this shelf or 
the loaves of dark bread on that, to him they meant 
but one thing : Death ! And he was quite satisfied that 
any one bold enough to eat of the food in that grizzly 
shop well deserved to be knocked up solid in one of 
Mipps's boxes. 

The sexton himself was examining with great care a 
mixture that he was stirring inside a small cauldron. 
Mr. Rash approached him and asked if there was 
enough. "Of course there is," answered the sexton. 
** Ain't the others all had theirs .^^ And there's only you 
left; last again, as usual. Hang the pot on to your sad- 
dle and come along." Jerk fell to wondering what on 
earth could be inside that pot. He could smell it 
through the broken casement, and a right nasty smell 
it was. Mipps led the way through the back of the 
shop, and Jerk, by changing his position, could see him 


fixing the pot to the saddle, as he had suggested, then 
springing on to the horse's back with marvellous agility 
for so ancient a man, he went off through the village 
with the schoolmaster trotting at the side, and the wary 
Jerk following in the shadows. 

They led him right through the village to the vicar- 
age, and tied the horse behind a tree at the back. Then 
Mipps, producing a key, opened the front door, and a 
minute later Jerk from a point of vantage behind the 
low churchyard wall saw the sexton throw a log on to 
the low, smouldering fire in the old grate of the front 
room that was the Doctor's study. Mipps also lighted 
a candle that stood upon the chimney-board. Jerry 
could see into the room quite distinctly now: he could 
see the old sexton curled up in the oak settle by the 
fireplace, and the schoolmaster's shadow flickering upon 
the wall. He also had a good view of the Court House, 
where there were candles still burning in the library, 
and the hearty voice of the squire would keep sounding 
out loud and clear. Presently the door opened and a 
figure came out, going off in the direction of the vicarage 
barn, and Jerk had no diflSculty in recognizing the 
bo'sun of the King's men. 

As soon as he had disappeared Jerk got another sur- 
prise, for there came across the churchyard, dodging in 
and out among the tombstones, a truly terrible thing. 
Its face seemed to the boy like the face of a dead man, 
for it looked quite yellow, and its white hair gave it a 


further corpselike expression. Jerk was terrified that 
the thing would see him, but it didn't, for the shining 
black eyes, unlike anything he had ever seen before, 
were directed entirely upon the lighted window of the 
vicarage, and up to it he crawled, and peeped into the 
room. The schoolmaster was standing with his back to 
the window, but he presently turned and went to the 
door. The weird figure crouched in the flower-bed 
under the sill, for Mr. Rash opened the front door and 
went round to the back of the house to the tree where 
he had tied the horse. 

As soon as he had gone the yellow-faced man entered 
the house. Now Jerry fell to wondering what this was 
all about, and what the little sexton would do if he 
caught sight of the apparition. 

But the sexton's eyes were closed and his mouth wide 
open, and Jerry could hear him beginning to snore. 
When the door of the room was opened the figure 
cautiously crossed toward the fire, but the sexton didn't 
move; he was asleep. 

Now above the chimney-piece hung a harpoon; it 
belonged to Doctor Syn, who was a collector of nautical 
curiosities; and this harpoon had once been Clegg's. 
It was a curious shape, and it was supposed that only 
one man in the Southern Seas besides the pirate had 
ever succeeded in throwing it. 

The figure was now between Mipps and the firelight, 
and it began examining the curios upon the mantel- 


board. Suddenly it perceived the harpoon and, with a 
cry, unhooked it from its nail. The sexton opened his 
eyes, and the figure swoing the dangerous weapon above 
his head, and Jerk thought that the sexton's last mo- 
ment had come, but Mipps, uttering a piercing cry, 
kicked out most lustily against the chimney-piece, and 
backward he went along with the settle. 

Perhaps it was the horrible cry that frightened the 
thing, because it came running out of the front door 
with the harpoon still in its hand, and leaping the 
churchyard wall disappeared among the tombstones 
in the direction of the Marsh. 

Mipps got up and ran to the door, crying out for 
Rash, and at the same time the door of the Court House 
opened and Doctor Syn came striding toward the 

"No more parochial work, I trust to-night, Mr. Sex- 
ton.^" he said cheerily, but then noticing Mipps's terri- 
fied demeanour he added: "What's the matter, Mr. 
Mipps .^ You look as grave as a tombstone." 

"So would you, sir, if you seen wot I seed. It was 
standin' over me lookin' straight down at me, as yellow 
as a guinea." 

"TVliat was?" said the cleric. 

"A thing!" said the sexton. 

"Come, come, what sort of thing.?" demanded the 

"The likes of a man," repHed the sexton, thinking. 


"but not a livin' man — a sort of shape — a. dead 'un — 
and yet I can't help fancying I've seed it somewheres 
before. By thunder!" he cried suddenly, "I know. 
That's why it took Clegg's harpoon. For God's sake, 
come inside, sir." And in they went hurriedly, fol- 
lowed by Rash, who had just arrived back on the scene. 
Inside the room Mr. Mipps again narrated in a horrified 
whisper what he had just seen, pointing now out of the 
window in the direction taken by the thing and now 
at the empty nail where Clegg's harpoon had hung. 

Doctor Syn went to the window to close the shutters 
and saw Sennacherib Pepper crossing the far side of the 

"Good-night, Sennacherib," he cried out, and shut 
the shutters. A minute later out came the school- 
master, but instead of going round for his horse, as 
Jerry expected, he walked quickly after Sennacherib 
Pepper. "How long is this going on for, I wonder?" 
thought young Jerk, as he picked himself up and set 
off after the schoolmaster. 



FOR half a mile out of the village Mr. Rash kept 
well in the rear of Sennacherib Pepper, and 
Jerk kept well behind the schoolmaster. It was 
a weird night. Everything was vivid, either very dark 
or very light ; such grass as they came to was black grass; 
such roadways they crossed were white roads ; the sky was 
brightly starlit, but the mountainous clouds were black, 
and the edges of the great dyke sluices were pitch black, 
but the water and thin mud, silver steel, reflecting the 
light of the sky. Sennacherib Pepper was a black shadow 
ahead; the schoolmaster was a blacker one; and Jerk — 
well, he couldn't see himself; he rather wished he could, 
for company. 

Although Mr. Rash was a very black-looking figure, 
there was something small and ugly that kept catch- 
ing the silver steel reflected in the dyke water. What 
was it.f^ Jerry couldn't make out. It was some- 
thing in Mr. Rash's hand, and he kept bringing it 
out and thrusting it back into the pocket of his 
overcoat. But the young adventurer had enough to 
do, keeping himself from being discovered, else he 



might have understood and so saved Sennacherib's 

When they got about a mile from the village Mr. 
Rash quickened his pace; Jerry quickened his accord- 
ingly, but Sennacherib Pepper, who had no object in 
doing so, did not quicken his. Once the schoolmaster 
stopped dead, and the young hangman only just pulled 
up in time, so near was he; and once again the silver 
thing came out of the pocket, but this time Mr. Rash 
looked at it before thrusting it back again. Then he 
began to run. 

"Is that you. Doctor Pepper.^" he called out. 

"Now this is strange," thought Jerk, "for the 
schoolmaster must surely have known what man he 
was following, and why hadn't he cried out before?" 

Sennacherib stopped. Jerk drew himself down among 
the rushes in the dyke and crept as near to the two men 
as he dared; he was within easy earshot, anyhow. 

"Who is it?" asked Pepper; and then, recognizing 
the shoddy young man, he added: "Why, it's the school- 

"Yes, Doctor Pepper," replied Rash, "and it's been a 
hard job I've had to recover you, for it's an uncanny 
way over the Marsh." 

Just then there was the sound of horses galloping in 
the distance, Jerk could hear it distinctly. 

"What do you want me for?" asked the physician. 

"It was the vicar sent me for you, sir," replied the 


schoolmaster. "He wants you to come at once; there 's 
somebody dying in the parish." 

"Do you know who it is.^" said the physician. 

"I believe it's old Mrs. Tapsole in the Bake House, 
but I'm none too sure." 

Indeed it seemed to Jerk that uncertainty was the 
whole attitude of the schoolmaster. He seemed to be 
listening to the distant noise of galloping and answering 
old Sennacherib at random. Perhaps the physician also 
noticed something in his manner, for he looked at him 
pretty straight and said : 

"I don't think it's Mrs. Tapsole, either, for I saw her 
to-day and she was as merry as a cricket." 

"She's had a fit, sir, that's about what she's had," 
replied the schoolmaster vaguely. 

"Then," said the physician, "you do know something 
about it, do you?" 

"I know just what I was asked to say," returned the 
schoolmaster irritably. "It's not my business to tell 
you what's the matter with your patients. If you 
don't know, I'm sure I don't. You're a doctor, ain't 

No doubt old Pepper would have pulled the school- 
master up with a good round turn for his boorishness 
and extraordinary manner had he not at that instant 
caught the sound of the galloping horses. "Look 
there!" he cried. 

At full gallop across the Marsh were going a score or 


so of horsemen, lit by a light that shone from their 
faces and from the heads of their mad horses. Jerk 
could see Rash shaking as if with the ague, but for some 
reason he pretended not to see the hideous sight. 

"What are you looking at.^^" he said, "for I see 

"There, there!" screamed old Pepper. "You must 
see something there!" 

"Nothing but dyke, marsh, and the highroad," fal- 
tered the schoolmaster. 

"No! There — look — riders — men on horses. Marsh 
fiends!" yelled the terrified physician. 

"What in hell's name are you trying to scare me 
for.^" cursed the trembling Rash. "Don't I tell you I 
see nothing? Ain't that enough for you.^^ " 

"Then God forgive me!" cried poor Sennacherib, 
"for I can see 'em and you can't; there's something 
wrong with my soul." 

"Then God have mercy on it!" The words came 
somehow through the schoolmaster's set teeth; the 
silver steel leapt from the pocket of his overcoat, and 
Sennacherib was savagely struck twice under the arm 
as he pointed at the riders. He gave one great cry and 
fell forward, while the schoolmaster, entirely gone to 
pieces, with quaking limbs and chattering teeth, stooped 
down and cleaned the knife by stabbing it swiftly up to 
the hilt in a clump of short grass that grew in the soil 
by the roadside. 


The sudden horror of the thing was too much even 
for the callous Jerk, for his senses failed him and he slid 
back into the dyke among the rushes, and when he 
came to himself the first shreds of dawn were rising 
over Romney Marsh. 



THAT he was still dreaming was Jerry's first 
thought, but he was so bitterly cold — for his 
clothes were wet with mud and dyke water — 
that he quickly realized his mistake; however, it took 
him a power of time and energy, and not a little 
courage, before he dared creep forth from his hiding- 
place. When he did the Marsh looked empty. The 
sheets of mist had rolled away, and it looked as innocent 
a piece of land as God had ever made. There was no 
sound save the tickling bubbles that rose from their 
mud-bed to burst amid the rushes, no one in sight but 
the old gentleman lying outstretched upon the road. 
Jerry crept up to him and looked. He was lying face 
downward, just as he had fallen, and the white road 
was stained with a dark bloody smudge. 

"Well," he said to himself, "here's another job for 
old Mipps and a trip to the ropemaker's," and shiver- 
ing with cold and horror he set off as fast as he could go 
toward the village. 

Now, when he was within sight of his own house, he 

began to consider what it was his duty to do. He had 



his own eyesight to prove the schoolmaster's guilt; but 
would he be believed? Could the schoolmaster some- 
how turn the tables upon him? If he breathed a word 
to his grandparents he would at once be hauled before 
that brutal captain; and the captain he felt sure would 
not believe him. The squire might, but the captain 
would, of course, take the side of authority, and back up 
the schoolmaster. Denis Cobtree was not old enough 
to give him counsel, and, besides that, the captain was 
staying at the Court House. 

No; Doctor Syn was the man to go to. He was 
kindly and patient, and would anyhow give one leave 
to speak without interruption. So, crossing the fields, 
so as not to pass by his grandparents' windows, he struck 
out for the vicarage. 

Just as he was skirting the churchyard he heard the 
tramp of feet, and the captain passed along the road, 
followed by the King's men. Two of them were bear- 
ing a shutter. Then the murder was known already. 
They were going to get Sennacherib's body. Yes, it 
most certainly was, for there was affixed to the church 
door a new notice. Jerry approached and read the 
large glaring letters : 

A hundred guineas will be paid to any person, or persons, 
who shall directly cause the arrest of a mulatto, a seaman. 
White hair; yellow face; dumb; no ears; six feet high; when 
last seen wearing royal navy cook's uniform. Necklace of 
sharks' teeth around neck. Tattoo marks of a gibbet on 


right forearm; a cockatoo on left wrist; and a brig in full sail 
executed in two dyes of tattoo work upon his chest. 

This man wanted by the crown for the murder of Sen- 
nacherib Pepper, Doctor of Physics and of Romney Marsh. 
[Signed] Antony Cobtree, 

Leveller of the Marsh Scotts, Court House, Dymchurch, 


Howard Collyer, 
Captain of his Majesty's Navy, and Coast Agent and Com- 
missioner, Court House, Dymchurch. 

The writing on this notice was executed in most 
scholarly style, and Jerk knew the familiar lettering 
to be the handiwork of the murderous schoolmaster 
himself. This colossal audacity was quite terrifying 
to him. It looked as if it had been written in the blood 
of the victim; for the black ink was still wet. 

As he gazed the church door opened and Doctor Syn 
came out. He looked pale and worried, as well he 
might, for indeed this shocking affair had already caused 
a most shaking sensation in the village. 

"This is a bad business, boy," he said to Jerk, who 
was still gazing at the notice. 

"You may well say that, sir," replied the boy. 

"Poor old Sennacherib," sighed the cleric. "To 
think that you went from my friend's house to meet 
your death. Well," he added hotly, shaking his 
fist across at the Marsh, "let's hope they catch the 
rascal, for we will give him short shrift for you, Sen- 


"Aye, indeed, sir," replied young Jerk, "and let's 
hope as how it'll be the right 'un when they does." 

"The right what?" asked Doctor Syn. 

"The right rascal," said young Jerk, "for that ain't 

"What do you know about it, my lad?" said the 

"The whole thing," replied Jerk, "for I seed the 
whole of the ugly business. I seed the man with the 
yellow face last night. I seed him a-comin' out of your 
front door with a weapon in his hand." 

"You saw that?" cried the cleric, his eyes shining 
with excitement. "You could swear that in the Court 

"I could do it anywheres," replied Jerk, "let alone 
the Court House, and what's more, I could swear that 
he never killed Doctor Pepper." 

"How can you possibly say such a thing?" said 
Doctor Syn. 

"Because I seed the whole thing done, as I keep 
tellin' you," answered Jerk, "and it wasn't him as did 

"How do you know?" asked the Doctor hastily. 
"Where were you?" 

"Out on the Marsh," said Jerk, "all night." 

"What!" ejaculated the vicar, looking at the boy 
doubtfully. "Are you speaking the truth, my lad?" 

"The solemn truth," replied young Jerk. 


"You were out on the Marsh all night?" repeated the 
astonished cleric. "And pray, what were you doing 

"Dogging that schoolmaster," replied Jerk with con- 

"Come into the vicarage," said Doctor Syn, "and 
tell me all about it." And he led the boy into the 

When he had finished his tale Doctor Syn took him 
into the kitchen and lit the fire, bidding him dry his 
wet clothes, for Jerk was still shivering with the cold 
of the dyke water. Then he boiled some milk in a 
saucepan and set it before him, with a cold game pie 
and a loaf of bread. Jerk made a hearty meal and felt 
better, his opinion of clergymen going up at a bound 
when he discovered that a strong dose of excellent 
ship's rum had been mixed with the milk. "Rum's 
good stuff, my lad, on occasions," he said cheerily, 
"and I've a notion that it'll drive the cold out of you," 
and Jerry thought it a very sensible notion, too. 

"And now look here, my lad," the Doctor went on, 
when Jerry could eat no more, " what you've seen may 
be true enough, though I tell you I can hardly credit 
it. It's a good deal for a thinking man to swallow, 
you'll allow, what with the devil riders and all that. 
Besides which I can see no earthly reason for the school- 
master committing the crime. As yet I really don't 
know what to say, my boy. I'm beat, I confess it. 1 


must think things over for an hour or so. In the mean- 
time I must strongly urge you to keep this adventure 
to yourself. It is very dangerous to make accusations 
that you have no means of proving, and certainly you 
can prove nothing, for there is nothing to go on but 
what you thought you saw. Well, a nightmare has 
upset better men than you before now, Jerry, and it is 
possible that your rich imagination may have supplied 
the whole thing. Go back then, to your house, and get 
a couple of hours' sleep, and then go to school as if 
nothing had happened. Then I'll tell you what we'll 
do, my lad: you come round here and we'll have a bit 
of dinner together and talk of this again." 

"Thank you, sir," said Jerk, very flattered at being 
asked to dine with the vicar. **I consider that you've 
behaved very sensible over this horrible affair, though 
where you get wrong, sir, is over my *rich imagination.' 
That part ain't true, sir. I knows what I seed, and 
I sees Rash stick Pepper twice under the arm with his 
pencil sharpener." 

But Doctor Syn dismissed him with further adjura- 
tions to hold his tongue, adding that the whole thing 
seemed most odd. 

On the way back from the vicarage Jerk met the 
sailors returning to the Court House bearing the re- 
mains of Sennacherib Pepper upon the shutter. After 
his conversation with Doctor Syn he thought it best 
to keep out of sight, as he was not desirous of being 


questioned by the captain, and so, when they had 
passed, he slipped home and managed to get into bed 
before his grandparents were astir. After his goodly 
feast at the vicarage he found it difficult to eat his usual 
hearty breakfast, but he did his best, saying that the 
news of this horrible murder and the thought of the 
man with the yellow face who was wanted by the King's 
men must have put him off his feed. And so his night's 
adventure passed unheeded, for everybody was too 
busy discussing the murder and setting forth their 
individual opinions upon it to trouble themselves about 
any suspicious behaviour of "Hangman Jerk." 



JERRY JERK made it a golden rule to be always 
late for school, but on this particular morning 
he intended to be there before the schoolmaster, 
for he wanted to watch him, and if he saw an opening, 
make him nervous, without in any way betraying his 
secret. In the comfort of daylight he had lost all those 
terrors that had oppressed his spirit; indeed, ever since 
he had unburdened his mind to Doctor Syn he had 
entirely recovered his usual confidence. So with jaunty 
assurance he approached the schoolhouse, determined 
to be there before the murderer. But this same 
determination had evidently occurred to the school- 
master, for when Jerry arrived at the schoolhouse he 
could see Mr. Rash already bending over his desk. 
Jerry, imagining that he had miscalculated the time, 
felt highly annoyed, fearing that he may have missed 
something worth seeing; but on entering the school- 
room he found that not one of his schoolfellows had ar- 
rived; consequently his entrance was the more marked. 
As a matter of fact, Jerk's young colleagues were hang- 
ing about outside the Court House until the last pos- 



sible moment, for there was much ado going forward, 
sailors on guard outside the door, people going in and 
coming out, and the gossips of the village discussing 
the foul murder of the unfortunate Sennacherib Pepper. 
Jerk went to his desk, sat down and waited, narrowly 
watching the schoolmaster, who was writing, keeping 
his face low to the desk. The boy thought that he 
never would look up, but after some ten minutes 
he did, and Jerk stared the murderer straight in the 

The schoolmaster bravely tried to return the stare, 
but failed, and then Jerk knew that he had in a measure 
failed also, failed in his trust to Doctor Syn, for in that 
glance Jerry had unconsciously told the malefactor what 
he knew. Presently Rash spoke without looking up: 
** Where have those other rascals got to?" 

Promptly Jerk answered : *' If you're addressing your- 
self to a rascal, you ain't addressing yourself to me, 
and I scorns to reply; but if I'm mistook — well, I 
think you knows where they are as well as I do who 
ain't no rascal, but a respectable potboy, and no schol- 
ard, thank God!" 

"I don't know where they are," replied the school- 
master, looking up. "Be so good as to tell me, please. 
Jerk, and I'll take this birch" (and his voice rose high) 
"and beat 'em all up to the schoolhouse like a herd of 
pigs, I will ! " Then conquering his emotion, he added : 
"Please, Jerk, where are they?'* 


But Jerk was in no way softened, so placing his fore- 
finger to the side of his nose and solemnly winking one 
eye, he said: *'I don't know no more than you do. Mis- 
ter, but if you does want me to guess I don't mind 
putting six and six together and saying as how you'll 
find 'em hanging about to get a glimpse at old Pepper's 
grizzly corpse, wot was brought from the Marsh on a 

"I'll teach them!" shrieked the schoolmaster, flour- 
ishing the birch and flying out of the door. 

^'That's it!" added Jerk. "You do, and I'll teach 
you, too, my fine fellow, who rapped my head once. 
I'll teach you and teach you till I teaches your head to 
wriggle snug inside a good rope's noose." And having 
thus given vent to his feelings, Jerk followed the school- 
master to see the fun. 

The crowd outside the Court House was quite large 
for Dymchurch. Everybody was there, and right in 
front enjoying the excitement gaped and peered the 
scholars of the school. But Rash elbowed his way 
through the throng and fell upon them like a sudden 
squall, using the terrible birch upon the youngsters' 
shoulders, quite regardless of the cries of "Shame!" and 
"Stop him!" from the villagers. But the onslaught of 
Rash came to a sudden conclusion, for the heavy hand 
of the captain's bo'sun fell upon him and ordered him 
immediately inside the Court House. Jerk saw Rash 
turn the colour of a jellyfish, asserting wildly that there 


must be some mistake, and that having his duty to per- 
form at the school he must beg to be excused. 

"It's my opinion," replied the bo'sun in a hard voice, 
"that them lads will get a holiday to-day. The in- 
quiry is going forward about this murder, and I have 
orders to see that you attend." So keeping his rough 
hand upon the teacher's shoulder he led him, still pro- 
testing vehemently, inside the Court House, with the 
jeers and jibes of the scholars ringing in his ears. 

Jerk had by now worked his way to the front of 
the crowd, and there he stood looking with wonder at 
the two great seamen who with drawn cutlasses were 
guarding the open door. Dymchurch was having the 
excitement of its life, and no mistake, and a holiday 
for the school, even the tragedy of Sennacherib Pepper's 
death, was forgotten in the glory of that moment, and 
the hated schoolmaster had been publicly stopped 
thrashing the boys and had himself been ordered into 
the Court House. 

"I wonder what for.^^" thought young Jerk. "I 
wonder .f^" He would have given a lot to see inside 
that upper room, where the inquiry was now about to 
proceed. Presently the captain himself came out of 
the hall and stood for a moment on the gravel outside, 
looking at the crowd. Now there were sailors keeping 
the crowd back; never had there been such formal 
times in Dymchurch. The captain glanced at the 
little knot of schoolboys with their satchels, and 


suddenly catching sight of Jerk, called out: "Hie you! 
you're the potboy of the Ship Inn, ain't you? Well, I 
want you. Step this way ! " So his wish was granted, 
and followed by the wonder and admiration of the 
crowd, Jerry Jerk, potboy of the Ship, strutted after 
the King's captain into the Court House. 



UP THE old stairway to the courtroom Jerk 
followed the captain, wondering why he had 
been called, what the captain knew about last 
night, and whatever Doctor Syn would advise him to 
Bay if he were questioned. These were nutty problems 
for Jerry's young teeth to crack, and though some- 
what nervous in consequence, he was on the whole 
highly delighted at seeing the fun. 

The procedure of the inquiry was evidently biding 
the captain's presence, for as soon as he had taken his 
seat at the high table the squire rose and in a few well- 
chosen words announced the inquiry to be set and open. 
The captain seemed to have forgotten the presence of 
Jerk, who was left standing in the doorway surveying 
the august company. There was an attorney-at-law 
and a doctor of medicine from Hythe, an attorney from 
Romney and a doctor from Romney. At the high 
table these four gentlemen sat facing the squire, who 
was in the centre, with Doctor Syn upon his right. 
On his left was the chair just occupied by the captain, 

and on fixed oak benches round the room sat the lead- 



ing lights of Dymchurch: the head preventive officer, 
three or four well-to-do farmers, two owners of fishing 
luggers, Denis Cobtree, Mrs. Waggetts, and the school- 
master, besides two or three other villagers. Nobody 
took much notice of Jerk when he came in, for all eyes 
were on the captain, but Doctor Syn not only took 
notice but the trouble to point out an empty space on 
one of the benches. 

*'Are all those summoned for this inquiry present?" 
asked the captain, looking round at the assemblage. 

**A11 but Mr. Mipps," said the squire, referring to a 
list of names before him. "While we were waiting for 
you, he took the opportunity of viewing the body next 

The captain signed to one of the two sailors who 
were guarding the door of the adjoining room, and he 
accordingly summoned the undertaker, who with an 
eye to business was measuring the corpse. Jerk caught 
a glimpse of this as the door opened, and of the form of 
Sennacherib Pepper lying on a table. The undertaker, 
with a footrule in his hands, took his place on one of 
the benches. Mipps's entrance seemed to revive the 
tragedy of the whole business, for there was a pause 
pending the squire's opening speech; but the captain 
was the first to speak. He arose and to the astonish- 
ment of everybody took up and lit a pipe which had 
been lying upon the table in front of him. 

"Sir Antony Cobtree and gentlemen," he said in his 


great husky sea voice, as he drew the smoke deliberately 
through the long clay stem and volleyed it back from 
his set mouth in blue battle clouds across the table, 
"we have met here to discuss, as Sir Antony Cobtree 
has already said better than I ever could, the sad and 
sudden death of Doctor Sennacherib Pepper, killed 
violently last night on Romney Marsh. The form of 
this inquiry I leave to the lawyers whose business it is, 
but before they get busy I've got a few things bottled up 
that I must and will say. I don't possess the knack of 
a crafty tongue myself, I've the reputation among my 
colleagues of being the most tactless man in the service; 
but I've also a reputation as a fighter, and when I do 
fight, it's a hard fight — a straightforward, open fight. 
So what I've got to say will like enough cause offence to 
every man in this room from Sir Antony Cobtree down- 
ward. I'm no good at strategy; as I say, I fight open; 
and when I think things — well, I can't bottle them up; 
I say 'em out bluntly at the risk of offence. So here it 
is: I don't like this business — this Doctor Pepper 

business " The captain here paused to roll a large 

volume of smoke across the room. 

The squire took advantage of the pause and said: 
"If that's all it is, Captain, come now — which of us 

The captain thought a moment and added: "If the 
party or parties who committed the crime didn't like it, 
why, in thunder's name, did they do it.^^" 


"You should know that better than we do," returned 
the squire hotly, "for that the murderer was under 
your employment is fairly obvious." 

" You are referring to the mulatto seaman," said the 
captain. "In the first place, I consider that you should 
have asked my permission before you issued that public 
notice affixed to the church door. Until the mulatto is 
found and can be examined, I deny your right or any 
man's right to brand him as a murderer." 

"You remarked just now, sir," cried the squire, 
"that you preferred to leave the business of lawyers to 
the lawyers. Please do so, and remember that while I 
am head of this jurisdiction on Romney Marsh I'll 
brook no dictation from Admiralty men — no, sir, not 
from the First Lord downward." 

"Come, come, gentlemen," said Doctor Syn, drum- 
ming with his fingers on the table, "I think that this is an 
ill-fitting time and place for \\Tangling. The captain 
has got a bee in his bonnet somehow, and the sooner we 
get it out for him the better. Let us please hear, sir, 
what he has to say." 

The squire nodded his head roughly and sat silent, 
while the rest of the company waited for the captain to 
continue, which he presently did, still pulling vigor- 
ously at his long clay pipe. 

"The next thing I don't like," he went on, "is Dym- 
church itself. I don't like the Marsh behind it, and I 
don't like the flat, open coastline ; it looks a deal too in- 


nocent for me on the surface, and, not being a strategist, 
I don't like it." 

The squire was on edge with irritation. 

"I am sure, sir," he said sarcastically, "that had the 
Almighty been notified of your objection during the 
process of the creation he would have extended Dover 
Cliffs round Dungeness." The captain didn't seem to 
notice the interruption. 

"Next, I don't like the people here, leaving Doctor 
Syn out of it — for he's a parson and I never could make 
head or tail of parsons. I say that, from the squire 
down, you're none of you swimming the surface. Sir 
Antony Cobtree went to great pains to lavishly enter- 
tain me yesterday, in order that he might politely im- 
prison me last night. I enjoy good entertainment and 
the conversation of witty, clever men, but not at the 
price of a locked door." 

"I don't know what you are talking about!" said the 
squire, livid with rage. 

"Don't you, sir.?" retorted Captain Collyer. "Well, 
I do, as I had to risk breaking my neck when I climbed 
down the ivy from your top window." 

"You had only to tell me of your eccentric habits," 
said the squire, "and I would have set a ladder against 
your window in case the door stuck." 

"The door was locked, and well your know it, sir," 
cried the captain, suddenly turning on the squire, "for 
half an hour after I had climbed back through the 


window — to be exact, at half-past four — I heard 
stealthy feet come along the passage and unlock it, by 
which I know that for a period of the night you wanted 
to make sure of me inside my room, and when on in- 
quiring from your servants I discover that I am the first 
guest who has ever slept in that particular room, and 
that the furniture was put into it for the occasion from 
one of the spare rooms, I begin to see your wisdom, for 
that room contained no view of the highroad, no view 
of the Marsh or sea.'* 

"Gad! sir, you are the first man who has dared to 
question my hospitality. Perhaps you expected me to 
give up my room for your accommodation." 

*' Nothing of the kind," answered the captain, "but I 
expected to be dealt straight with. And this brings me 
to the end of my complaints, and let me tell you this: I 
saw enough last night on the Marsh to keep Jack Ketch 
busy for an hour or so. Gentlemen, I am warning you. 
You'll not be the first I've sent from the coast to the 
sessions, nor will you be the last. I warn you, one and 
all, that I'm going to strike soon. I'm not afraid of 
your tales of Marsh devils and demon riders. I'll rout 
'em out and see how they look by daylight. I've men 
behind me that I can trust, and they're pretty hardy 
fighters. If your demon riders are not of this world, 
then they'll do our good steel no harm; but if they are 
just men playing hanky-panky tricks to frighten fools 
from the Marsh, well, all I've got to say to them is, if 


they relish British cutlasses in their bowels, let them 
continue with such pranks as they played upon poor 
Pepper, and they'll get Pepper back and be damned to 
them, for it's Jack Ketch or the cold steel and nothing 
else." And having thus hurled his challenge at the as- 
sembly the captain put his pipe upon the table and sat 

You can imagine that a speech of so staggering a 
nature had a strange effect upon the company. So 
sudden was it, so ferocious, so uncalled for, that nearly 
a minute elapsed before any one moved. At last the 
squire rose, speaking quietly but in that clear voice that 
everybody in Dymchurch knew so well and respected: 

"Gentlemen, Doctor Syn spoke very wisely, as it is 
ever his wont to do, when he rebuked us for wrangling, 
for, as he said, both time and place are ill fitting. This 
is the first time that I have been insulted during my 
long sojourn in Romney Marsh, and I am glad that it 
has been in the presence of my friends and tenants of 
Dymchurch, who know me well and will do me right in 
their own minds, never allowing themselves to be warped 
for a single instant by the scathing and unjust remarks 
of a stranger upon whom I have, to the best of my abil- 
ity, bestowed hospitality and every mark of friendship. 
On the other hand, I most honestly affirm that Captain 
Howard Collyer has given me insult in a straightfor- 
ward way . In his defence I must say that the Admiralty 
have chosen a bad man to do their spying for them; 


when I say bad, I mean, of course, the * wrong' man. 
I know the captain to be a brave and a good sailor. 
The splendid though tactless drubbing that he gave to 
the French man-o'-war Golden Lion in the mouth of the 
St. Lawrence River describes exactly the sort of character 
that Collyer carries; and if the Admiralty had left him 
in command of the Resistance we should have been at 
war with the odious French long ago. I now give the 
Admiralty credit for being weatherwise seamen and 
diplomatists, and think them shrewd in depriving him of 
a * command.' Having now, as it were, given the devil 
his due, I say to him, in the presence of you all, that his 
words here this morning have been foolish, ridiculous, 
and altogether preposterous. It is not in accordance 
with either my private or public dignity that I should 
answer the vague, hinted accusation of this captain. As 
I said before, I am judge here, and while I hold the most 
honourable position of 'Leveller of Marsh Scotts,' I 
decline to entertain any imputations, for should I ever 
consider myself to be in the position of being rationally 
accused of any crime of lawlessness, I should, for the 
honour of my office and the general welfare of Romney 
Marsh, regard myself compelled to resign. This I have 
no intention of doing, for it is clearly now my bounden 
duty to see my poor friend Sennacherib Pepper righted 
and avenged; and for that duty I sweep aside Captain 
Collyer's statements as trivial and impertinent. You 
gentlemen in this Court House are all good Marsh- 


men, and one and all know me better than I know 
myself. When you consider me unfit to be your judge 
I will retire, but not till then.'* 

A storm of applause greeted the squire as he sat 
down, but it was cheeked by Doctor Syn, who again 
reminded the assemblage of the sad event that had 
brought them to the Court House and begged them 
out of respect for the dead gentleman in the next room 
to abstain from any further acclamation. 



THE lawyers now asserted themselves, and for 
some three hours questioned and cross-ques- 
tioned everybody. The squire left things in 
their hands, seeming to take small interest in the pro- 
ceedings, while the captain, with his chin resting on his 
great hand, obviously took none at all. Doctor Syn, how- 
ever, was at great pains to follow through the whole 
business, making notes of anything he deemed character- 
istic upon a scrap of paper before him. 

But with all their cleverness the lawyers were greatly 
at sea, for they only ended up where they began — 
namely, that Sennacherib Pepper was dead, and by 
violent means; that a foreign sailor was missing, and 
that this same sailor had stolen at a short period before 
the murder a certain harpoon from the house of Doctor 
Syn, and that from the nature and size of the wound 
upon the body sudden death was most certainly caused 
by this same weapon. To this false though obvious 
conclusion Doctor Syn, to Jerk's intense surprise, un- 
hesitatingly agreed. Jerk couldn't understand this at 
all. Why had he been called to the trial if the vicar 



had not believed his story? for he found on being 
summoned to the witness box that all he was required 
to state was whether or no he had seen the mulatto 
enter the vicarage on the previous night and leave it a 
few minutes later with the harpoon in question in his 
hand. Having sworn to this, he was on the point of 
taking matters into his own hands and exposing the 
schoolmaster, when he was peremptorily ordered to 
"stand down" and only answer what was required of 
him. Returning to his place, he plainly noted the 
relief on the face of the schoolmaster. A warmer time 
of it had Mr. Mipps. There was something about 
Mipps that would always be called in question. If a 
great crime had been committed within a fifty-mile 
radius of Mipps, he would most assuredly have been 
detained upon suspicion. His quizzical appearance of 
injured innocence was quite enough to label him a 
"likely one." On this occasion he acted upon the 
attorneys like a red rag to a bull. 

"If I'm to bekept standing through this examination," 
he remarked on his way to the witness box, "I must beg 
of you to be more brisk and businesslike than you have 
shown yourselves already. Perhaps in your profession 
you are paid for wastin' your time, but in mine you 
ain't, so please remember it. As our worthy vicar 
knows, I has a lot of work to get through; so the sooner 
you get on with this here dismal business the better 
temper you'll keep me in, see?" 


"You keep your mouth shut, my man, till you're 
questioned," sang out one of the attorneys sharply. 

"I'll keep my mouth shut for nobody but squire and 
Doctor Syn," retorted the sexton, "and in your future 
remarks don't *my man' me, please. I ain't your man, 
and it's mighty pleased I am I ain't." 

When ordered to give an account of what had hap- 
pened on the previous night, he obstinately refused to 
open his mouth until they had removed to the other 
side of the room the two sailors who were guarding the 
witness box. "For," said he, "I can't abide the look 
or the smell of 'em; they fair turns me up." 

This caused much laughter among the villagers, and 
indeed the little sexton was so ready with his scathing 
remarks at the expense of the lawyers that in order to 
preserve their dignity they were obliged to stand him 

"Have I now your permission to go back to my measur- 
ing," said Mipps, producing his footrule, "or will any 
more advice from me be required.'^" 

The lawyers tartly observed that he had been little 
or no use at all, and turned to the next witness. 

After the schoolmaster had been called upon to bear 
out certain points of evidence, the three hours' useless 
palaver came to a conclusion, the attorneys agreeing 
with Doctor Syn that Sennacherib Pepper had been 
murdered by the mulatto, and that as soon as he was 
taken he would get swift trial and short shrift; mean- 


time "any one found sheltering, feeding, or in any way 
abetting the said mulatto would be prosecuted." 

As it was now approaching dinner-time, further mat- 
ters were left over until such time as the mulatto should 
be caught. 

This, Doctor Syn vehemently urged, was of grave im- 
port to the Marsh folk, for so long as that maniac 
starved upon the Marsh, with a good weapon in his 
hand, they were open to the same fate as that which 
had befallen the inoffensive Pepper. 

The captain rose first, left the Court House, and set 
off for the Ship Inn without a word to the squire, the 
latter, accompanied by the attorneys and medical men, 
repairing to the dining-hall below. Doctor Syn, how- 
ever, went from group to group, impressing the necessity 
for posses of men to scour the Marsh for the missing 

This gave Rash an opportunity of approaching Jerkj» 
who, being due to dine at the vicarage, was awaiting 
the parson's pleasure. 

"Well! And what do you think of Court House 
inquiries, Mr. Jerk?" he said affably. "Impressive, 
ain't they .^" 

"Not to me," replied Jerry. "I don't think nothing 
at all of 'em. After all the messing of them lawyers, I 
shouldn't be surprised if they hadn't got hold of the 
wrong end of the stick, should you.^^" 

"What do you mean — the wrong end?' 



"What I say: the wrong end ain't the right 'un, I 

"Then you don't think the mulatto committed the 

"From what that there sea captain said, I should 
say you ain't got no right to put thoughts into my 
head any more than words into my mouth." 

"Come, Jerk," said the schoolmaster suavely, "no 

"Never said there was," replied Jerry. 

"Then come and have a bite with me at my house, 
as there's no school to-day; I should be honoured, in- 
deed I should," and the schoolmaster beamed upon him. 

"Would you, though.^ I wonders .f^" mused the boy. 
"Sorry to disappoint you," he added airily, "but I'm 
a-dinin' at the vicarage." 

"Oh, with the vicar?" 

"No, with the Shah of Persia." Then in a tone of 
supreme condescension he added: "I believes vicars 
lives in vicarages!" 

"Ah — so — so! quite right!" returned the school- 
master. "Doctor Syn, then, has asked you to dine?" 

"Well, I don't see anything so very remarkable in 
that, do you?" 

"Oh, not at all — all very right, proper, and pleasant." 

"W^ell, it's right enough, you can lay to that, 'cos I 
tells you it is, and as to its being proper, well, I don't 
see as how it's improper, so I suppose it is; and as to 


its being "pleasant, well, I'll tell you when I knows what's 
to eat there; and if you'll excuse me I'll be off now, 'cos 
I believe Doctor Syn is waiting for me." 

Indeed at that moment Doctor Syn approached and, 
putting his hand affectionately on Jerk's shoulder, with 
a friendly nod to the schoolmaster, he led the boy from 
the room of inquiry out of the Court House and so to 
the vicarage, where a cold dinner was already prepared. 



N^ OW, although it was comparatively early in the 
afternoon, Doctor Syn did rather a curious 
thing, or so it seemed to Jerry, for he had the 
wooden shutters of the dining-room fastened, and they 
dined by the light of candles. This had quite an un- 
canny effect — to dine by candles in broad daylight — 
but Jerk thought perhaps this was always done when 
gentry entertained company. 

Doctor Syn was gloomy through the meal, and al- 
though he kept pressing Jerry to "take more" and to 
"help himself," he made no effort at keeping up con- 
versation; in fact, had not the food been good and 
plenteous, Jerry very much doubted whether he would 
have enjoyed himself at all, for Doctor Syn's manner 
was so different. He seemed strained and excited, 
and not once or twice, but many times during the re- 
past, he would get up and stride about the room, and 
once he broke out into singing that old sea song that 
Jerry had so often heard at the Ship Inn : 

** Here's to the feet wot have walked the plank. 

Yo ho ! for the dead man's throttle. 
And here's to the corpses floating round in the tank, 
And the dead man's teeth in the bottle." 



Now to make conversation Jerry was bold enough to 
interrupt this song by inquiring what exactly was 
meant by the "dead man's throttle." Doctor Syn 
stopped in his walk and looked at him, filling two tots of 
rum, one of which he handed to Jerk, tossing off the 
other himself and saying : 

"Ah, you may well ask that, sonny. I don't know 
exactly myself, but I suppose if poor Pepper was to 
come in here now and throttle us, man and boy — him 
being stone dead, as we both well know — well, we should 
be having the *dead man's throttle' served on us!" 

"Oh, I see!" replied Jerk with interest. "Then 1 
take it that the rest of the song has some shreds of 
meaning, too? What's the *tank' that the corpses float 
round in, sir.^" 

"The sea," replied the Doctor, "the sea; that's the 
great tank, my lad, and that there are corpses enough 
floating round in it, I don't think you and I could 

"That's plain and true enough," said Jerk, "but I 
don't see no sense about the 'dead man's teeth in the 

"That's plain enough," said the Doctor, taking a stiff 
swig from the black bottle itself; "it was in England's 
day that I wrote that. He cut a nigger's head off with 
a cutlass because the rascal was drinking his best rum 
on the sly, and the shock, as he died, made the black 
brute bite through the glass neck of the bottle." 


"Did you see it, sir?" asked Jerk, carried away by 
the tale. 

** Who said I saw it? " demanded the cleric sharply. 

"Well, you said you wrote the song, sir, and at the 
time it happened." 

"Nothing of the kind — I said nothing of the kind. 
The song's an old one, an ancient thing. God knows 
what rascal invented it, but you can depend upon it, a 
rascal he was. I don't know why I should hum it — I 
don't know what it means; can't make head or tale of 
the jargon." 

"You explains it very sensible, I thinks," replied 

"I don't — I don't. I give you my word it's Greek 
to me." 

"But Greek's easy to parsons, ain't it?" 

"Yes, yes — well, Chinese, Fiji — what you will — what 
you will. Have some rum!" The Doctor's manner 
was really very strange indeed. Add to this the shut- 
tered room, the candlelight, and the strong spirits in 
his head, and it was small wonder that Jerry felt none 
too comfortable, especially as at the conclusion of the 
meal the door opened and Mr. Rash entered the room. 

"Well, my lad," said the vicar, "now you know where 
I feed, drop in again. Parochial matters to attend to 
with the schoolmaster: must choose the hymns, you 
know, for Sunday, or the choir will have nothing to 
sing." And in this vein he led the boy out into the 


hall. He then dropped his voice to a whisper: "You 
were wrong about the schoolmaster last night, sonny. 
I'll explain things to you some day. Meanwhile, here's 
a crown piece. You're a smart lad, ain't yoxi? Well, 
keep a weather eye open for that mulatto rascal. 
There's more in this ugly business than we imagine. 
I'll tell you all about it when I know more myself, but 
you made a mistake last night, and I begin to see how 
you made it, but I can't tell you just yet, because I'm 
not quite sure of my ground; and it's dangerous ground 
we're treading, Jerry, you and I. Now here's another 
crown — that one's for keeping your eye open — do you 
know what the other's for? " 


"Keeping your mouth shut. Don't you remember 
anything about last night till I tell you — you wouldn't 
understand if I was to explain. You're very young, 
you know, Jerry lad, but smart's the word that de- 
scribes you, and no mistaking. You're smart and bright 
— as bright as the buttons on that sea captain's coat — 
as bright as a thousand new guinea bits just served 
from the mint — that's what you are, and no mistake!" 

"I hope so," replied Jerk, stepping out of the front 
door. "I thinks I am!" 

"God bless you!" said the Doctor, shutting the door 
and returning to Rash, who was waiting in the shuttered 
room by the light of the guttering candles. 



BACK to the Ship and to duty went *' Hangman 
Jerk," with much to think over in his bullet 
head, and much to digest in his tight little 
stomach. To make head or tail of the Doctor's re- 
markable manner was beyond him, so he dismissed it 
from his mind and instead fell to contemplating the two 
silver crowns: one payment for keeping his weather eye 
open — easily earned; the other — the schoolmaster's 
safety — directly against his highest hopes; yes, a crown 
was poor payment for that, especially as it was now 
possible for himself to be the direct means of hanging 
his enemy. 

Approaching the bar door, he paused, for he heard 
voices within, voices that he knew released him from 
work, the voices of Mrs. Waggetts and the pride of her 
life — the sexton Mipps. 

Jerk knew exactly how the land lay with Mrs. Wag- 
getts, and he was always wondering when (if ever) she 
would succeed in folding that queer little man within 
the safe bonds of matrimony. Now whatever Jerk's 
failings may have been, he was loyal to his friends, and 



Mrs. Waggetts was not only his friend but his employer, 
and she had done him one or two very good turns. For 
one thing, she had given him a money box in which to 
save a portion of his weekly wage. That doesn't sound 
a great deal on the surface, it is true, but her kindness 
had not ended there, as you shall see. Jerk's teeth 
were not sweet, like those of most boys of his age; he 
never bought sweetmeats, barley sugar, and such child's 
trash. No, when he wanted a pick-me-up it was a 
grown man's pick-me-up that he indulged in — a pan- 
nikin of rum, a whiff of tobacco, and a long-shot spit 
at the china spittoon that stood in the front of the bar. 
These indulgences had no effect on his purse, for the 
cravings of the first two were easily satisfied from the 
bar store when nobody was looking, and the third he 
was at liberty to practise whenever he felt so disposed. 
And thus it was that, although but approaching thirteen 
years of age, he had through the good offices of the 
landlady and a systematic use of her money box already 
become a landed proprietor. When the landlady heard 
that Jerk wanted to spend his savings on such a very 
strange thing as land she had exclaimed in some surprise: 

"Lord bless the boy! Land.^ What can a boy of 
that age want with a plot of land.^ " 

"The money's good enough, ain't it, ma'am.'^ Very 
well, then, I wants land. A nice little bit of snug mud- 
bank where I can hide and learn about the Marsh. If 
I've a bit of mud wot's all mine on Romney Marsh — 


well, I'll be a Marshman, I'll be, and it's a Marshman 
proper I wants to be." 

So Mrs. Waggetts consented, and bought a plot for 
him situated about a mile and a half from the village 
and a rough half mile from the sea. As land, it was of 
no use in the commercial sense — in fact, the farmer had 
thought the landlady clean crazed to buy it, though the 
price was small enough as far as prices go on the Marsh. 
It was more mud than land, surrounded by two broad 
dykes that slowly oozed round to meet in a sluice chan- 
nel. This was Jerk's estate, measuring twelve by ten 
yards all told, and only solid in one spot near the centre, 
a patch of about ten square feet which formed a knobby 
mound surrounded by great bullrushes ; but the mound 
was not such a small affair, for it rose high enough to 
top the loftiest rush, and that is quite a noticeable 
height on the flat of Romney Marsh. This mound was 
given by its owner the dignified name of Lookout Moun- 
tain, a name well deserved, for by sitting on the top 
of it upon the great stone which he had dragged from 
the sea-wall and carried a mile across the Marsh for the 
purpose, he could see from Dover Cliffs to Dungeness, 
and in the other direction the long line of hills which 
bound the Marsh inland, with old Limpne Castle frown- 
ing from the top. But Jerk wouldn't have changed 
his stronghold for any other, Limpne Castle included; 
it suited him admirably. From it he studied the 
Marsh and the creatures therein: the great brown 


water-rat that came out in the evening to hunt in the 
rushes; the swift- winged dragon-fly that could stand 
in midair stock still, as it seemed, to look at you; the 
myriad mosquitoes with their fantastic air dance, hunt- 
ing in tribes along the sluggish waters; the tadpole who 
looped about in the water below; and more especially 
the flabby flap of the night-prowling bat who hung all 
day head downward from a decayed old tree trunk that 
was rotting on the opposite bank to Jerk's estate. Now 
this same tree trunk had put ideas into young Jerk's 
head. It was obviously no good to any one, and yet 
Jerk found himself regretting that it had not lived and 
died upon his land, for it was shaped devilishly like a 
gallows tree, and if he could only erect a gallows tree 
upon the summit of Lookout Mountain he would be 
more than ever living up to his reputable name of 
Hangman Jerk. He half thought at one time of digging 
it up and replanting it on his own property, but when he 
had caught hold of a branch one day and it had crum- 
bled away in his hand he considered that, although very 
nice and weird to behold, it wasn't much use as a gen- 
uine gibbet, and a genuine gibbet he then and there 
resolved to possess. Now the silver crowns of Doctor 
Syn would buy the most glorious scaffold, a regular 
professional affair, fixed snug and firm in the ground, 
and capable of supporting the weight of a wriggling 
man. Mipps was the man to undertake the job, for 
he was a first-rate carpenter, and there was wood and 


to spare in the yard behind the coffin shop. Yes, if any 
man could supply him with a gibbet Mipps could; and 
there he was talking in the bar ready to hand, and here 
were the silver crowns in Jerk's pocket. But to buy the 
gibbet and then to have to keep his mouth shut about 
the schoolmaster was no good. Mipps would never do 
the job for one crown, but for two Jerk thought he 
might. Well, he would see about that, and if he were 
unsuccessful, he must find a way of raising the money, 
and then, as soon as the apparatus was ready, he would 
get Rash condemned, and offer the authorities the loan 
of a brand-new gibbet. Oh, to watch the murderer 
swinging from the top of Lookout Mountain, right 
away on the lonely, windswept Marsh! That, indeed, 
was a glorious thought. Yes, he must come to terms 
with the undertaker at once — an undertaker now with a 
vengeance — Rash's undertaker. But the little gentle- 
man in question was talking to Mrs. Waggetts, so 
Jerry had to wait in honour bound, for he was staunch 
to his benefactress, and would not have interrupted for 
the world. The conversation going forward in the bar 
was carried on in earnest tones but low, and Jerk began 
to think that Mrs. Waggetts was at last drawing the 
sexton into a proposal of marriage, and his interest in 
this one-sided love affair made him crouch by the bar 
door in hopes of gathering up some scraps of the honeyed 
words. But the few disjointed words he did catch were 
more akin to passion than to love. 


"Alsace Lorraine — one bottle gone ! Damn that cap- 
tain's soul!" 

Yes, there was passion there — not love. "We know 
how to use the mist — they don't." 

"It's safe enough. Lots of it to-night " 

No, there was no vestige of love in that. And pres- 
ently the conversation was terminated with the most 
uncomplimentary remark from the sexton. 

"You can lay your old topknot, and throw in your 
face, that there'll be a good haul out to-night, and a 
good haul in here," saying which, with a knowing slap 
at his pocket, Mipps came hurriedly out of the bar 
door and fell all a-sprawl over the crouching body of 
young Jerk. 

"Why, in the name of all wot rots, can't you tell me 
where you was.^^" cursed the sexton. 

" 'Cos I prefers to tell you what I wants," replied 
young Jerk. 


"A gallows!" 

"Aye, that you do, if any one did." 

"Will you make it for me, then.? " said the boy. 

" What do you mean. '^ " 

" What I says — will you make me one? " 

"At a price." 

"And that is?" 

"Depends on the size. Wot do you want a gallows 
for now?" 


"That don't concern you," returnedJerk. "You'll 
have all you can do makin' it, without askin' questions." 

"And you'll have all you can do, when it's made, a- 
preventin' me a-stringin' you up on it, if I has any more 
o' your impert'nence." 

But Jerry was in no way put out, and replied : 

"If you don't want to build my gallows, say so, and 
I'll soon find some other cove wot does. Come, wot's 
your price .f^" 

"And wot's your game?" 

"My business, not yourn," said the boy. "But 
you'll find as how yourn won't improve by annoyin' 
your employers." 

"Employers.'^ And who might they be now?" said 
the sexton. 

"Well, I'm a-tryin' to be one," said Jerk, jingling 
the coins about in his pocket to lend weight to his 
words. "W^hat price for a gallows, eh?" 

The jingle of coins always made the sexton think. 

"Wot size? "said he. 

"Big enough and strong enough to hang a man on, 
of course, and allowin' for a good foot or two of timber 
in the earth." 

The sexton scratched his head. " Well, I'm cursed ! " 
he said. 

"That's nought to me," replied Jerry. "Come on! 
Your price?" 

"Well, say two crowns for making and one for fixin'." 


"One for makin' and one for fixin'," said Jerk, hold- 
ing them out. 

"No!" said the sexton, eying the coins. 

"Then hang the fixin'!" cried the boy, "for I'll fix 
it myself. So it's one for makin' and the wood, ain't 
it. Mister Sexton.?^" 

"No, it's two for makin', and I lose on that." 

"Very well," agreed Jerk desperately, handing over 
the money, "and please, Mister Sexton, make it now, 
'cos I wants it quick." 

So the bargain was struck there and then, and off 
they both set to the coflfin shop to carry it out; and the 
gallows was made by nightfall and set up on Jerk's 
property, the sexton carrying it there himself, digging 
the hole and fixing it up — a regular professional affair 
with a jangly rusty chain a-swing through the hook — 
and all this for the nominal price of two silver crowns, 
lately received by the purchaser from Dr. Syn. 

"Ah!" cried Jerk, as they viewed the completed 
erection from the other side of the dyke; "ain't it fust 

"Slap up," agreed the sexton. 

"Quite strong, ain't it.^" inquired the owner anx- 
iously, to which the sexton replied imperiously: 

"It were Mipps as knocked it up, as you seed your- 
self; and when Mipps knocks up, you can lay it's solid 
wot's knocked," saying which he turned and strode off 
toward the village, followed by Jerk. 


When they had gone about half a mile Jerk looked 
back and called to the sexton to do the same. Dark- 
ness was already creeping over the Marsh, but sharp 
and black against the skyline — no toy, but real, weird, 
and convincing — stood Jerk's gibbet. 

"What do you think of Lookout Mountain now.^" 
sang out the boy. 

"That you can better the name of it, Hangman Jerk. 
Why not call it Gallows Tree Hill? " 

** Why, so I will ! " cried the singular youngster. "It's 
a good name, and so I will — and let's hope as how the 
tree'll bear fruit." 

"As how it won't," muttered the sexton. 

"But it will, you can lay to that." Jerk could al- 
ready picture the schoolmaster hanging there. 

As they neared the village, with sudden fear Jerk said 
to the sexton: 

"I suppose the smugglers won't take my gibbet as a 
personal offence and knock it down.'^" But the wary 
Mipps disarmed his fears with : 

"There ain't no smugglers, for one thing; 'sides, if 
there was, how could they knock down wot's knocked 
up so solid .^" 

"Well, dig it up, p'raps," suggested Jerk, "'cos. 
Mister Sexton, it do catch the eye some wot, don't it? 
Look, you can see it even from here, and it don't look 
exactly pleasant, do it?" 

"Pleasant ain't exactly the word, I agrees, but you 


needn't worry yourself on that score. If them damned 
King's men had put it up now, I don't say as how it 
mightn't get mobbed and knocked about a bit, 'cos 
them damned King's men ain't wot you might term 
popular favourites in the village, but as it weren't, 
don't you worry, for I'll soon pass the word, young 
Jerry, as how it's you wot owns it." 

"Thank you," said Jerry. *'They wouldn't knock 
it over if you asked 'em not to, I'll be bound." 

"Asked who not to?" demanded the sexton quickly. 

"Why, any of 'em," replied Jerk innocently: "Marsh- 
men, smugglers, jack-o'-lanterns, demon riders, wot 
you will; for I'll lay they're all a-scared of Sexton Mipps, 
ain't they.f^" 

But Sexton Mipps was not to be caught by such 
dangerous flattery, and he replied: 

"There ain't no such things as smugglers hereabouts, 
as I thinks I've already remarked; and as for demon 
riders, why, uncanny they be, and I holds no truck 
with 'em, thank the Lord. Folks wot has dealin's 
with 'em has sold their souls for the bargain, and I ain't 
a-goin' to do that!" 

"Bein' such a very good and respectable Christian.'^ 
Oh, no !" said Jerk winking. 

"Why, certainly," answered the sexton, "and might 
I ask wot you're a-winkin' about?" 

"Nothin'— I was only thinkin'!" 

"Wot about?" 


"A dream — a nightmare I had last night, that's all." 

**Wot about?" asked the sexton again. 

"Nothin' particular," returned the boy casually. 

They had now reached the coffin shop, so, thanking 
the sexton for his assistance. Jerk bade him good-night. 

"Where are you bound for now?" Mr. Mipps called 
after him. 

"The vicarage." 


"To tell the vicar as how I've borrowed a crown off 
of him, that's all!" 

" W^ot's that? " cried the sexton, making as if to follow, 
but the boy waved him back with a fierce gesture. 

" 'Tain't nothin' to do with you. You're paid, ain't 
you? And it didn't get stole from the poor-box, neither, 
so don't you start a-worritin'." 

And thrusting his hands deep into his breeches pocket. 
Jerk set off for the vicarage to tell Doctor Syn that 
although he couldn't accept the silver crown for holding 
his tongue, he had taken the liberty of borrowing it off 

And in this way was the gibbet set up on Lookout 
Mountain, and the name changed to Gallows Tree Hill. 


THE schoolmaster's SUIT 

IT WAS now dark. Jerk passed through the clus- 
ter of quaint little houses that make up the one 
street of Dymchurch-under-the-wall, and so on 
to the vicarage. Just at the corner where the Court 
House stands amid the great trees he heard sing- 
ing, and recognized the voice and figure of Imogene. 
She was carrying a basket from the direction of the 
Ship and was probably bound, like himself, for the 
vicarage. But as she passed the Court House she 
paused, and to Jerk's astonishment felt among the ivy 
that grew around the old front door. There in a cer- 
tain branch was a piece of paper, which she took from 
its hiding-place as if she had expected to find it. The 
message it contained she read by the light of the lan- 
tern that hung above the door, and then, thrusting it 
into the bosom of her rough dress, she went on toward 
the vicarage gate. But out from the shadows of the trees 
stepped a man, whom Jerk perceived to be the school- 
master. Imogene hesitated when she saw him, for he 
was standing directly in her path, but when she tried to 
hurry past, Rash stopped her and spoke. 



"So, Mistress, now that you have got your lover's 
written promise from the ivy there, you think you can 
afford to pass by such a humble one as the school- 
master, but you're mistaken, and I'll trouble you to 
show me that letter," 

The girl's hand went involuntarily to her bosom, 
where the note in question was securely tucked away, 
and she answered back clear and straight: "No, Mister 
Rash, you've no right." 

"Right is might, Mistress, as you'll find, and I think 
we shall be able to come to terms now. I want you to 
come along with me to the vicarage; Doctor Syn is there, 
and I've something to say before you both." 

"Let us go, then," said Imogene, trying to pass. 

"x\ll in good time," returned the schoolmaster, 
stopping her. "There's no immediate hurry, I think, 
for the Doctor won't come out of that shuttered room 
of his till morning, so we can afford to keep him waiting, 
and I've something to say to you first — alone." 

The girl tossed her head impatiently, as if she knew 
what was coming, but Rash continued: 

"A few weeks back I asked you to marry me — I, the 
esteemed schoolmaster, asked you, the daughter of a 
criminal; you, whose father was a proved murderer, a 
dirty pirate hanged publicly at Rye for a filthy tavern 
crime; you w^ho were born in a Raratonga drinking 
hell, some half-caste native girl's brat ! Ecod ! it's laugh- 
able! I offered to make you respectable and put your 


banns up in the church, and you refused. Now I 
know why. You think because that young fool Cob- 
tree is pleased to admire you, that you will catch him 
in your toils, do you? You're a clever one, ain't you.^^ 
I dare swear that sooner or later you'd succeed in 
getting hold of him — let the young idiot ruin you, eh.^ 
Then make a virtuous song about it to the squire, and a 
settlement to keep your mouth shut, perhaps." 

"Beast!" cried the girl, and she struck him sideways 
across the mouth with her clenched hand. 

"Hello!" thought Jerk, crouching in the bushes, 
"here's another one having a *go' at him; well, the 
more the merrier, so long as I'm the last." 

The schoolmaster recoiled, trying to look as if the 
stinging blow had not hurt, but the blood was flowing 
from his lip and from the hand of the girl as well. 

"So that's it, is it.^^" he sniggered, "a real love match, 
p'haps.'^ The squire's consent, the wedding bells, and 
live happily ever after, eh.^ Ecod! my lady, I think 
not. Rash is your man, see.^ and lucky you are to get 
him; you whose father's gibbet chains are still swinging 
in Rye." 

"And yours are swinging a bit nearer than that!'* 
said Jerry Jerk to himself. 

"You leave my father out of it," w*ent on the girl, 
"for from all I've heard of him he was a better man than 
you, and he was fond of me, too; so it's lucky for you 
he's not here to hear you speaking bad of his child." 


"You know nothing about him — ^he was a drunken 

"Doctor Syn knew him well, and he's told me things. 
A rough man he was, certain, and none rougher, reck- 
less, too, and brave, a lawbreaker on land as well as sea, 
pitiless to his enemies, staunch to his friends, but con- 
temptible he never was; and so, Mister Rash, you can 
afford to respect him, and I say again that I wish he 
were here to make you." 

"Shouldn't care if he was," replied the schoolmaster, 
'*for there's always the law to look after a man." 

"So there is," chuckled Jerk, "and that you'll find." 

"Bah! what's the good of hagghng and squabbling?" 
said Mr. Rash. "You're mine, or you'll have to bear 
the consequences." 

"And that is.^" asked the girl defiantly. 

"The rope for your friends when I turn King's evi- 

" You wouldn't dare, you coward, for you'd be hang- 
ing yourself as well." 

"King's evidence will cover me all square." 

"So you're determined to turn it, are you.^^" 

"I am, unless you change your mind." 

The girl didn't reply to that, so Mr. Rash, thinking 
that he was making an advance, continued : 

"Think, Imogene — this Cobtree fellow will be packed 
off to London in a month or so, and from there on to 
Oxford; and after a university career of drinking. 


gambling, and loose living, with precious little learning, 
he'll settle down to the gentleman's life, marry some 
person of quality, and you — eh? what of you, then?" 

**I earn my living now, don't I?" replied the girl. 
"Well, what's to prevent me going on the same?" 

"Don't you want to marry?" went on the school- 
master. "Don't you want a house of your own? 
Don't you want to be the envy of all the girls in the 

"Not at the price of my happiness; and, besides, I'm 
not so sure that I do want all those things so desperate. 
I'm afraid the wife of Mister Rash would be too genteel a 
job for me." 

"Oh, I'd soon educate you up to that," returned the 
schoolmaster, looking pleased. 

"It 'ud be a great nuisance to both of us, wouldn't 

"I shouldn't mind — it would be a pleasant business 
making a respectable woman of you, Imogene. You 
see, you're not common like these village girls, and that's 
what attracts me; otherwise, it might have been better 
for me to have fixed my choice on one of them: one 
that hasn't a bad mark against her, so to speak. But I 
don't mind what folk say. I suppose they'll talk a bit 
and laugh behind my back. Well, let 'em, say I. I 
don't care, because I want you." 

"Then it's a pity that I'm not the same way of think- 
ing, isn't it?" 


"What do you mean?" 

"That I wouldn't marry you — no, not though you 
got the whole village the rope ! " 

"You ungrateful wretch, not after all they've done 
for you?" 

"You're not the sort of party to talk to others about 
being ungrateful, are you now?" 

"I wasn't born of jail folk." 

"No; and you can hope your children, if you're ever 
cursed with any, will be able to say the same, for I 
doubt it very greatly. Mister Schoolmaster. And as 
to your threats, I set no store on them, for from my 
heart I despise you; I despise you because you would 
be willing to betray your fellows, but I despise you 
more because I know you are too great a coward to do 

"We shall see," said the schoolmaster, "for who's to 
stop me?" 

"Parson Syn," answered the girl. "Parsons can 
bear all manner of secrets and not betray them. That's 
their business, and Doctor Syn's a good man, so I'll tell 
him everything, and in his wisdom he'll find a means of 
checking your contemptible scheme." 

"That shows how little you know about things, 
IVIistress Ignoramous; for it's that very same good man, 
Doctor Syn, who is going to read out your banns on this 
next Sabbath as ever is, and it's Rash who is going to 
make him, and if you won't come along with me to 


church, well, I'll threaten other parties in this little 
place who'll help me to make you. Folk are none too 
anxious to be exposed these days with King's men in 

the village, and so you'll see " The schoolmaster 

stopped talking suddenly. 



NOW, although Jerry had employed all his audi- 
tory faculties for the overhearing of this con- 
versation, he had unconsciously listened to 
something else: a slight noise that now and again came 
from the direction of the vicarage, a small, whirring noise, 
the kind of noise that he had heard in Mipps's coffin 
shop when a tool was working its way through a 
piece of wood — yes, a whirring noise with an occasional 
squeak to it. 

He hadn't bothered to ask himself what it was; he 
had just gone on hearing it, that's all. But now an- 
other noise arose in the night that not only claimed his 
immediate attention but made him feel cold all over. 
It had the same effect upon Mr. Rash, for he stopped 
talking suddenly and gripped the post of the gate with 
one hand and with the other pulled Imogene roughly 
into the denser black of the bushes; and then the noise 
grew louder and louder. What at first could only be 
described as a gibbering moan rose into shriek after 
shriek of mortal terror: a man's voice, a man scared 
out of all knowledge; and then over the gate leaped a 



dark form, agile and quick, that went bounding away 
through the ghostly churchyard. There was some- 
thing familiar in that figure to Jerk. He had seen it 
almost from the same spot the night before. It was the 
man with the yellow face. The schoolmaster came out 
from the bushes, followed by Imogene. Quickly they 
went through the gate and toward the vicarage, and 
silently Jerk followed, with his heart thumping loud 
against his ribs; for although the echoes of those drum- 
cracking shrieks still vibrated in his ears, the gibbering 
moans still continued. 

To the back of the house went the girl and the school- 
master, and to the front went Jerk. It was all dark — 
indeed no lights were showing from any of the rooms 
but one, and that was the Doctor's sitting-room with 
the shutters still close fastened; but a jagged little hole 
in the corner of one of the shutters sent a shaft of yellow 
candlelight straight out into the blackness. Yes, the 
gibbering moaning was coming from the Doctor's room. 
Jerk crossed a bed of flowers and a gravel path and 
applied his eye to the jagged hole in the shutter. This 
little hole accounted for the whirring and squeak-, 
ing that he had just heard, for it was newly cut, and 
Jerk put his hand upon several little pieces of split 
wood that had fallen upon the outer sill. It was 
plain that the awful apparition he had just seen had 
been looking into the room. He had evidently made 
the hole for the purpose, and made it with that awful 


weapon he carried, that same harpoon over which so 
much talk had been expended at the Com-t House 
inquiry. Now the shutter, being an outside shutter, 
backed right against the lead-rimmed glass casement, 
and thus it was that Jerk had to wait for a few con- 
siderable seconds before seeing plainly anything in the 
room, for the candlelight flickered and danced upon 
the glass. But the very second he had put his eye to 
the hole the moans within the room steadily rose, and 
Jerk's thumping heart increased its already unnatural 
pace, for he expected the loud shrieks to follow, though 
he could not understand their motive. But soon his 
eye got accustomed to the light, and one thing in the 
room became visible, the form of Doctor Syn. He was 
sitting in a high-backed chair in the centre of the room, 
gripping the oaken arms with his long, white fingers, and 
upon his face w^as a look of indescribable horror : his neck 
being stretched up alert and straight, his eyes dilated 
to a most disproportionate stare, glazed and terrible; his 
hair unkempt, and his thin legs pressing hard against 
the floor. 

But his mouth was neither set nor rigid, like the rest 
of his members — his mouth was loose and hanging 
open — such a mouth as the madman carries; and from 
it was coming that inarticulate gibber, that gibbering 
moan that had arrested the hearing of Jerry Jerk. 
Straight at the shutter stared the demented Doctor; 
straight into Jerk's eye at the jagged hole, and suddenly 


his hand shot out over the table; he picked up the great 
plated candelabra, and hurled it, lighted candles and all, 
full at the window. Jerk started back to the rattle of 
glass, and at the same time a heavy hand fell upon 
his shoulder, and another was passed over his mouth, 
while a familiar voice whispered in his ear : " For God's 
sake be quiet! " It was the captain, and he stood hold- 
ing the boy tightly, keeping his eye on the jagged 
hole, and with something approaching terror upon his 
strong face. It was dark now, of course, for there was 
no light in the house, but presently Jerk and the 
captain heard low, frightened voices, and a light 
showed suddenly through the hole. The captain 
stooped and put his eye to it. Yes, the door of the 
Doctor's sitting-room was opening, and Imogene and 
the schoolmaster came into the room. Imogene came 
first, with a lighted candle held high above her 

The Doctor was now kneeling on the floor straight up. 
He had a black bottle in his hand; the same rum bottle 
from which he had treated Jerk that very day. He 
seemed to recognize Imogene, for he smiled as she en- 
tered, smiled as he slowly raised the bottle and tilted 
the contents, neat and raw, down his vibrating throat. 
And then he saw the schoolmaster. His upper lip 
twitched, curled, and rose, disclosing his white upper 
teeth; his underlip stretched down and showed his 
lower teeth, shining white, that glistened underneath 


the bottle's neck. There was a snap and a quick 
crunching sound. The captain gasped for breath, for 
Doctor Syn had bitten through the glass neck, and 
seized the bottle by the broken end. Slowly he dragged 
one leg from the kneeling position and pushed it out 
before him; slowly he fixed his other foot like a firm 
spring behind him. Terrified, Mr. Rash sprang back 
against the wall, with the blood still trickling from his 
cut lip, and motionless stood the girl Imogene, with the 
candle held above her head. Syn was in position to 
spring. Rash was waiting to be seized, and nothing 
moved in the room save the slowly oozing blood on 
the schoolmaster's lipj vivid against the pale lantern 
jaw, and the blood and ground glass that glistened in 
a saliva stream that hung from the cleric's mouth. 
Nothing else moved at all, except perhaps the light shed 
by the flickering candle, which danced shadows of the 
two weird men upon the whitewashed v/alL And then 
with a hissing sound Syn made a leap, swinging the 
bottle as he did so, and bringing it down with a sicken- 
ing crash on the white face before him. Down went 
Rash, senseless, blinded with blood and the shivered 
glass. Then Syn laughed, and sang at the top of his 
v^oice : 

''Here's to the feet wot have walked the plank, 

Yo hoi for the dead man's throttle. 
And here's to the corpses floating round in the tank, 
And the dead man's teeth in the bottle." 


And as he sang he danced, and stamped the senseless 
face beneath his feet; and then he sang again, roaring 
new words to the eternal old tune : 

"A pound of gunshot tied to his feet, 
And a ragged bit of sail for a winding shee' ; 
Then out to the sharks with a horrible splash. 
And that's the end of Mr. Rash." 

And with diabolical glee he leaped again, and landed 
with both feet upon the victim's face. 

All this time the girl stood still. Like a statue she 
stood, with the candle high above her head; and the 
terrible cleric went on with the song: new words, but 
still a corruption of the same old tune, which he roared 
and screamed in the very whirlwind of his uncon- 
trolled madness: 

"And all that isn't ripped by the sharks outside 
Stands up again upon its feet upon the running tide." 

Taking the prostrate body, he lifted it on to its feet and 
leered into its face; then letting go of it, he watched it 
fall and collapse in a heap. 

"And it kept a-bowing gently and a-looking with surprise 
At the little crabs a-scrambling from the sockets of its eyes." 

The captain then shouted, shouted at the top of his 
voice, and tore at the fast, firm shutter. The song 
ceased in the room. The light once more went out of 
the jagged hole, and there was the noise of a falling 


body. Probably the girl had fainted. The shutters 
were strong and wouldn't give. 

** The back door ! " shrieked the terrified Jerry. " The 
back door is open!" And around to the back rushed 
the captain, followed by the boy. And as he ran he 
blew three shrill calls upon a silver whistle that he 
carried on a chain. The whistle was answered with 
another, and before the captain had found and opened 
the back door, the captain's bo'sun had appeared from 
the bushes, followed by a strong party of the King's 
men. The bo'sun made a light from his tinder box, 
and as they were finding a candle in the back kitchen 
they could hear some one moving about in the sitting- 



THANK God somebody's brought a light, for I 
don't know what hasn't happened here. Ah, 
Captain, it's you, is it ? " The speaker was Doc- 
tor Syn — he was eahnly kneeling over the form of Mr. 
Rash. He had, in fact, propped his head upon his knee 
and was dabbing the bleeding face with his clean hand- 

*' Just get the brandy bottle out of that corner cup- 
board, will you, my man.^ " he said to the bo'sun. "The 
girl there has fainted. Nothing serious, just sheer 

The bo'sun did as he was ordered, and Imogene was 
quickly restored to consciousness. 

The captain for the most part just stared at Syn and 
said nothing. Suddenly he passed his hand over his 
brow and wiped away the great beads of perspiration 
that had gathered there; then taking the brandy bottle 
from the bo'sun's hand he took a long pull, and with a 
sigh sat down in the armchair, still staring at Doctor 
Syn with unconcealed amazement. 

"Feeling a bit squeamish, Captain.^" said the latter, 

smiling. "You're right, it's an ugly sight. More 



blood than necessary, though. Merely flesh cuts. 
Bruised a bit, too! Help yourself to brandy. Good 
evening, Jerry; pleased to see you. Here's your poor 
schoolmaster got hurt. Feeling better, Captain ? That's 
good. The sight of blood does turn one up. Was it 
Hannibal or Hamilcar who never could reconcile him- 
self to the sight of blood .^^ I forget. Some great 
general it was, though. The girl here is the same. 
Better, Imogene.^ Siu'ely it was Hannibal, wasn't it.^" 

"I am sure I don't know, or care," thundered the 
captain, standing up and turning desperately on the 
bo'sun. "Job Mallet, what in hell's name is all this 
business.f^ I'm dazed." 

But Doctor Syn went on speaking in his usual col- 
lected tones : " It's all very horrible, I grant, but there's 
no mystery, I assure you. We were all three chatting 
here quite pleasantly, when in leaps that mulatto of 
yours, attacks my friend the schoolmaster and all but 
kills him. I picked up a bottle and landed the brute a 
crack over the head. The bottle broke, and the mad- 
man turned on me, clapped a bit of broken glass in my 
mouth, which I expect is cut about a bit, and got away. 
I asked the girl to hold the light, and when she saw the 
schoolmaster's face, why, over she went, candle and all, 
into a dead faint. Never saw such a thing in my life, but I 
tell you this. Captain : it's your bounden duty to get hold 
of that maniac and string him up to the nearest tree, for 
there's not a man, woman, or child safe while he's free." 


Then Doctor Syn helped them to move the still un- 
conscious Rash into his own bedroom, leaving the bo'- 
sun and two seamen in charge, the rest of the sailors 
returning to the vicarage barn; and finally muffling 
himself in his great cloak he proceeded to the inn to 
procure a room for the night. Supporting Imogene, 
he walked ahead, followed by the captain and Jerry 
Jerk bearing a lantern. 

"Potboy.^ " said the captain on the way. 

"Sir?" said Jerry Jerk. 

"Are we dreaming, or what.^" 

"Bio wed if I know; w^ish I did." 

On reaching the inn they all agreed that it was none 
too safe to walk abroad that night again, for fear of that 
sinister mulatto out upon the Marsh, so they ordered 
the supper and rooms to be got ready, and for an hour 
or so the Doctor chatted of indifferent things, just as if 
nothing had happened. 

But the captain kept silent that night; he had many 
things in his head that he couldn't understand, and the 
greatest of these was Doctor Syn, that pious old cleric, 
who was making himself so pleasant over a steaming 
bowl of punch; and as the parlour clock ticked on, and 
the room was filled with tobacco smoke which the par- 
son kept sending in thin rings across the fireplace, the 
captain rubbed his eyes hard, fidgeted and shuffled in his 
chair, wondering when the dream would stop and he 
would find himself awake. 



PRESENTLY the captain yawned and Doctor 
Syn rose and summoned Mrs. Waggetts. The 
captain yawned again and rubbed his eyes. 
Was he awake or dreaming? The last thing he re- 
membered was drinking the hot rum punch and listen- 
ing to a long story that he thought the Doctor would 
never finish. What a soothing efi'ect that punch seemed 
to have on his faculties, for after that he was rather 
vague. He dreamt he w^as lifted up sleeping, lifted up 
by two men who had followed Mrs. Waggetts from 
the bar when Doctor Syn had called her. Was one 
of those men that insolent Sexton Mipps.^ He vaguely 
thought it was, though he wouldn't be sure. No, 
he wouldn't be sure of anything! He thought he 
had been carried up to bed, but that was too silly, 
for who would carry him up to bed.^^ Was it Doctor 
Syn who had said to Mipps on the stairs that he 
wasn't going riding to-night for a thousand guineas, 
and that they must do without him for once.^ Then 
Mipps answered: 

"That yellow beast ain't a-lookin' out for Clegg's 



carpenter, is he? Well, I'll go, it don't want us both 

Then the dream got more confused than ever. There 
was a lonely reef in the coral seas, and on it was a weird 
figure calling. The captain seemed to be on a ship that 
was standing away from the reef, and all the time the 
figure kept calling. There was a full ship's crew col- 
lected on the deck who were threatening two men. 
One was a familiar figure, a figure he had not seen often 
out of his dreams, and so was his little companion, and 
still the voice kept calling. The crew pushed forward 
a spokesman: he was a Chinaman — they called him 
by a nickname — Pete. Pete sheepishly advanced and 
stammered out to the familiar figure, whom he addressed 
as "Captain," to put the ship about, and take up again 
the lonely form calling from the reef. Pete's argument 
was evidently useless, for as he turned to join his fel- 
lows, the tallest of the familiar figures stretched out his 
hand and caught the yellow man — he was clad in the 
scanty garb of a cook — and broke his naked back with a 
marlin-spike that the little companion of the familiar 
figure had handed to him. Then the crew were com- 
manded to throw the body overboard or they would 
be served the same. This they did, and the sharks sur- 
rounded the ship, clacking their teeth. Then the 
breeze seemed to blow off the reef, and the familiar 
figure ordered the men aloft to unfurl the sails. They 
obeyed sullenly, and still the voice, getting fainter and 


fainter, called from the reef, and the breeze increased, 
and the captain and his mate ordered the men the 
quicker aloft. 

"Get up aloft there, you dogs! Get up! Get up! Get 

The familiar figure then caught sight of the dreamer 
(though he wasn't sure that he was dreaming even yet) , 
and striding up to him ordered him aloft, and when he 
refused he dragged him up by the arm. The dreamer 
felt dizzy, for tlie sails were blowing in his face, and he 
thought he would let go, it was so like his first experi- 
ence aloft; and he begged the familiar figure to let him 
go down, but the voice went on crying: "Up! Get 
up! Get up!" 

Then the sail was pulled from his face, the wind blew 
through his hair, and he started up, catching hold of a 
stay (which turned out to be the bedpost), and letting 
the sail fall below^ upon the deck, which in reality was 
the bedclothes slipping to the floor, and still the voice 
cried: "Get up! Get up!" And he recognized there 
the familiar face and form of Doctor Syn, and by him 
his companion. Sexton ]Mipps. 

" Get up ! Get up ! " the parson was crying. "What a 
fellow to sleep you are ! Like waking the dead ! Upon 
my soul, it is, Mr. Mipps." 

The captain rubbed his eyes again. 

The sun was streaming through the window, which was 
open, and a good stiff breeze was blowing in from the sea. 


"What the devil!" said the captain. "Oh, it's 
Doctor Syn, is it? What's the time? " 

"Just on ten o'clock," said the cleric. 

"Ten o' what?" bellowed the captain, leaping out of 

"Clock," repeated Mr. Mipps. 

"I've overslept. Thing I've never done in my life. 
Been dreaming, too. Nightmares — horrible ! But what 
do you want? Is anything the matter? " 

"I think there is," said the Doctor quietly. 

"And so do I," said Mr. Mipps. 

"What? What's wrong? What's happened?" 

"I don't quite know yet, it may be nothing at all, but 
I don't like the look of it." 

"The look of what?" shouted the captain. 

"The vicarage," replied the vicar. "Put on your 
clothes quickly. Captain, and come and see. I think 
there's something wrong." 



THE captain was not long in tumbling into his 
clothes. Meantime, the sexton sat upon the 
bed, which neither of the other two seemed to 
think extraordinary or even familiar. The captain 
now and then addressed a sharp question to the Doctor, 
which the Doctor did not answer, nor indeed did the 
captain seem to expect an answer. The Doctor was 
standing by the window, his gray hair blowing in the 
stiff sea breeze that filled the room. Suddenly they 
heard a little shaking noise upon the bed, and, turning, 
perceived the little sexton, with the tears rolling down 
his cheeks, given up to the most ungovernable laughter, 
and yet it was not laughter, for the sexton made no 
noise. He just let his body quiver and heave and the 
tears roll on over his thin cheeks. Yes, he was lost 
in a fit of unmanageable giggles. 

"What the thunder's amusing you?" roared the 
captain; and he hurled the bolster at the sexton's 

Mipps was himself again upon the instant. 

"Blessed if I knows," he gasped, "but thank you 



kindly for that bolster whack, for if something hadn't 
happened I believe I should have bust." 

"But what is it? There must have been something 
to make you laugh like that." 

"If there was, I'm blessed if I knows wot," returned 
the sexton, "for I gives you my word that I never felt 
solemner than I does now, no, not never in my life." 

Doctor Syn took no notice of this extraordinary oc- 

When the captain was dressed they all three set out 
for the vicarage. 

"Well, now, what is wrong with it?" said the cap- 
tain, surveying the little house that looked so pretty 
in the morning sun. 

"That's just what we want to know," answered Doc- 
tor Syn. "In the first place, short of forcing the door, I 
don't see how we're going to get in. The place is all 
locked up, and, though we have battered and hammered 
on the doors and windows for a good hour, we can get 
no answer from the sailors inside." 

"And my men in the barn, where are they?" said 
the captain, looking across at the building in question. 

"I'm afraid. Captain, that you are too liberal to your 
men, for their rum barrel is empty and the whole lot of 
them are still asleep." 

The captain swore and walked to the back door, 
raised his foot, and with one kick sent the door in, 
splintered and cracked from the bolt sockets. 


"Neatly done!" remarked Doctor Syn, "though 
who's to pay for a new door? " 

But the captain did not heed him, nor care a brass 
farthing for the door, he was bent on investigating the 
house, which he did, followed by Mipps and the Doctor 
and Jerry Jerk, who had appeared from somewhere, 
nobody quite knew where. 

The kitchen was empty, so the captain opened the 
door of the sitting-room ; it was very dark because of the 
closed shutters. 

The captain strode across to the broken window, 
threw it open, and unbolted the shutters, which, swing- 
ing back, let in the light of day. In the corner of the 
room opposite the window lay the two sailors who had 
been left to watch with the bo'sun. Both were bound 
and gagged, and one of them was moving. The cap- 
tain loosed his bonds with a clasp knife, and the fellow 
seemed to recover his senses. 

"What does this mean, my man?" said the cap- 

The sailor turned and pointed to the body of his 
friend. It lay half propped up against the wall, and 
above it was a large splintered tear in the whitewashed 
plaster. There were blood marks on this part of the 
wall. And then the captain saw and understood, for 
the neck of the propped-up body had been cruelly 
pierced, although there was no sign of a weapon; but 
some weapon had transfixed that body to the wall and 


then been plucked out, so that the body had collapsed 
amid a mess of broken plaster. 

*'It's Bill Spiker, sir," said the sailor. "He's dead! 
He was a good gunner, sir, too. We wanted Spiker, 
sir, to fight the French — and he's dead!" And the 
sailor broke off blubbering. 

Just then they all became aware of a moaning over- 

"What's that?" said Mipps, beginning to giggle. 

Indeed the uncanny atmosphere of the vicarage that 
morning had upset them all. 

"I'm sure I don't know," said the captain, "for I've 
had my fill of horrors. I don't mind blood and I don't 
mind fighting, but these mysteries are horrible. What 
the devil is that moaning.^ " 

"That'll be Job Mallet, captain's bo'sun," said the 

"Or Rash, the sick schoolmaster," said Doctor Syn. 

But Mipps said nothing; he had left the room and was 
now out in the passage, suffering from another attack of 

"Damn that sexton's body and soul!" ejaculated the 
captain; "his giggling gives one the creeps. What's 
tickling him now.f^" 

"Unstrung," muttered the vicar, as he followed the 
captain up the dark stairs to the bedroom. 

There in the bed, last night occupied by Mr. Rash, 
lay the fat bo'sun on his back, with his face gagged up 


and covered with a nightcap. Dreadful moans he was 
making as he lay there. 

The captain pulled the bedclothes off, and discovered 
that the faithful fellow was tied to the bed. Grateful 
he looked, though troubled, when the captain cut his 
bonds and pulled him up; and he owned in a shamefaced 
manner that he never had endured such a horrible night 
in his life, and that Parson Syn (saving his presence) 
must be the foul fiend himself to be able to sleep in such 
a devil-haunted house. 

Doctor Syn went downstairs and fetched the brandy 
bottle, and administered a good dose to the bo'sun, and 
also to the other seamen who had followed them up- 

**And where's the schoolmaster got to.^^'* said the 

"He's gone." 

**Gone.^" they all repeated together. 

"Aye, sir, gone! And if ever a man has gone body 
and soul, I declares he has; for I solemnly and soberly 
declares that I seed him hoisted up and removed down- 
stairs by a couple of horrible light-faces." 

"Light-faces.^ " roared the captain. 

"Yes, sir, coves with faces all a-shine. Why, I 
wouldn't settle down and live within a hundred miles 
of Romney Marsh for a thousand guineas a year pen- 
sion, I wouldn''t; for talk about devils, the place stinks 
of them!" 


"Now, look here, my man," said the captain, "just 
pull yourself in a brace or two and tell me what hap- 

"Why, so I will," said the bo'sun, "for queer, most 
queer it be." 


THE BO'sUN's story 

NOTHING happened, sir, for some hour or so 
after you left, and then things made up for lost 
time, as 'twere, and came fast and quick. I 
was sitting outside this here room with the door on the 
jar — outside I was, 'cos I couldn't bear the sight of that 
schoolmaster's face. I think you'll own yourself, sir, 
that it wasn't just exactly wot you might call 'a pleas- 
ant evening face' especially, a-battered about as it was. 
Poor Bill Spiker and Morgan Walters here was asleep 
downstairs, for we'd agreed that I should stand first 

"Well, the boys had brought us over our allowance of 
rum from the barn, and we'd all had a drop, though I 
kept most of mine to the end of my watch, thinking to 
use it for a nightcap, as 'twere, but the little drop I did 
get was making me feel very drowsy, and I began to 
think the next hour would never go, when I could wake 
up Bill Spiker. Presently I hears a noise of galloping 
horses. I goes to the window on the stairs there, and 
looks out. Right along the road I could see those same 
riders with Kt-up faces wot I'd seed the night before 



last. I know it was them, 'cos I could see their faces, 
you understand, when quite sudden I was seized from 
behind and pulled over backwards down the stairs. I 
fought the best I could, but there was a sort of over- 
powering smell upon a 'kerchief wot had been pulled 
over my mouth, and I was lifted up on four men's 
shoulders, as it seemed. I couldn't see anything of 
their faces, but as I went up the stairway on their 
shoulders I just remember a-seein' that schoolmaster 
a-comin' down in the same fashion as I w^as a-goin' up, 
only that he only required two to hold him. Now, 
whether this was because I was heavier, I don't know, 
or whether 'cos he was only a-comin' down while I was 
a-goin' up, or whether the things wot had got hold of 
me was real or sham, as 'twere, but certain am I the 
two things wot had the schoolmaster — and things I must 
call 'em, though they was a bit like men — had got the 
same shiny faces all alight, just like wot them demon 
riders had; and then I don't remember nothing else till 
I was woke up by hearin' a sort of horrible shriek down- 
stairs which I thought was just a dream, but now sup- 
pose was poor Bill a-voicin' his last opinion in this world, 
as 'twere. After that I went to sleep again; then I was 
waked up again by a sort of groanin', which I finds was 
myself, and then in comes you after a long time and 
lets me go, as 'twere, and that's all I knows, so help me 
God, sir; but quite enough for one night, as I thinks 
you'll agree." 


Morgan Walters then gave his version of what hap- 
pened in the night, which bore out certain points of the 
bo'sun's story. 

He had soon fallen into a deep sleep, but was awak- 
ened with a feeling that something was wrong. He 
tried to move but couldn't; indeed, he could scarcely 
breathe. The only things that he could see were two 
dark forms moving about the room, but their faces were 
lit up by a curious light. These two things passed out 
of the room, and then for what seemed an interminable 
time Morgan Walters worked away at his bonds, and 
presently became aware that his companion was doing 
likewise. They couldn't talk, for they found that, just 
as soon as they tried to, the breath that they took in 
through the ansesthetic overpowered their senses. Pres- 
ently INIorgan Walters thought that he could hear the 
sound of horses. It sounded like a regiment of pack- 
ponies trotting on the highroad — *'tlip tlop" they went, 
a slow **tlip tlop," and a lot of them, too. These were 
his very words. Then he heard a sigh of satisfaction 
from his companion, and saw him stand up, for he had 
partially unbound himself. Whether to let in the re- 
freshing sea sir, or whether he had also heard the horses 
and wanted to locate them, Morgan Walters couldn't 
say, but Bill Spiker had got to the broken window and 
unbolted the shutters. He felt the cold air come into 
the room with a great gasp, and then he seemed to have 
dozed off again, but the next thing he heard was a great 


scream of agony, and turning over he beheld Bill Spiker 
embracing the wall, and the wall held him up, for there 
was a weapon transfixed to it through his companion's 
neck. The very horror and sudden surprise of the 
thing caused Morgan Walters to make a superb effort, 
and he somehow stood upon his feet. Then came a 
curious thing: He saw between himself and the now 
repulsive form of his fellow a man — a yellow-faced man 
— the mulatto seaman. With one hand the creature 
plucked the weapon from the wall and drew it back 
through the bleeding neck that held it. This was 
strangely vivid to Morgan Walters, and he could recall 
his thought of wonder that the blood in no way stained 
the yellow hand that drew the reeking steel from the 
flesh. The body of Bill Spiker fell from the wall and 
collapsed in a heap, and a hand seemed to strike Mor- 
gan Walters at the same time, for he lost consciousness 
again and remembered little else. 

"Did the mulatto touch you?" asked the captain, 
speaking suddenly and rather loud, so that all in the 
room gave a perceptible start. "Think well, my man." 

"I am quite certain of that, sir. I know he did not /" 

"And yet you were knocked down!" 

"So it seems, sir, but it may have been just losing 
consciousness again. I've never fainted before, so 
perhaps it was that, or the effects of the smelly stuff on 
the 'kerchief. " 

"And you remember nothing else?" 


"One thing, though whether I dreamt that or not I 
couldn't swear to, but it seemed that when I come to 
something Hke myself the dawn was breaking, for the 
room was filled with a gray light, when suddenly some- 
thing came into the room and closed those shutters. 
Then I fell off into another sort of sleep and dreamt 
that people were trying to wake me up by banging on 
the shutters, and then at last — hours after it, it seemed 
— you came, sir, and freed me." 

"One moment," said the captain; "this something 
that closed the shutters — a man.'^" 

"Yes, like a man." 

"Like what man.^" 

"Well, sir, it was like one of them devils that I'd 
seen leaving the room that night. It also reminded 
me — yes, it reminded me of that gentleman there, 
a-standing at that door — that sexton; in fact, now I 
comes to think of it and look at him, I remembers dream- 
ing a lot about him in the night." 

"Thank you kindly," said Mr. Mipps, who was in- 
deed listening to the narrative from the door, "but 
don't trouble to drag me into it, mate. I gives you my 
word that we were all as merry as crickets till you 
King's men come nigh the place, and as for talks of 
demons and such like, well, there's always gossip of 
such, of course, but since you fellows come aboard, the 
talk's been of nothing else; and murders, too. WTiy, 
we'd never heard of murders, except, of course, in church 


we'd heard as how there was such things. We was as 
happy and contented a pleasant-going Httle village as 
you could have wished, we was; but now, so help me God ! 
you fellows have turned our little spot into a regular 
witches' kitchen, that you have. Two days you've 
been here, and two murders we've had — one a day — 
and if you stays here for a year, as you can calculate 
for yourself, we'll have three hundred and sixty-five, at 
the present rate. Of course it's good for my trade, so I 
says nothing. Go on murdering to your hearts' content, 
for I can knock up one a day all right, but I ain't 
a-goin' to take any blame about it, and, wot's more, I 
object to being dreamt about; so another night kindly 
leave me out of your adventures, 'cos I don't like bein' 
mixed up with such traffic." 

Saying which Mipps stepped across to the corpse of 
Bill Spiker, and, producing his footrule, measured him 
up, and entered the same in a dirty notebook. 

The captain then proceeded to the barn and soundly 
rated his still drowsy men; and putting the bo'sun in 
charge of the corpse, he asked Doctor Syn to join him for 
breakfast at the Ship. And as there was no school- 
master, and consequently no school, Jerry Jerk had the 
extreme pleasure of waiting upon them. 



DURING the meal Jerry took good stock of both 
men. The captain's manner was sullen and 
grumpy. He was turning things over in his 
mind that he was incapable of solving — things alto- 
gether out of his ken. Doctor Syn, on the other hand, 
seemed eager to discuss all these curious events, but 
underlying his interesting, polished, quiet conversation 
there smouldered a nameless fear which now and then 
burst into flames of enthusiastic fury — fury against the 
captain's apparent inactivity in taking measures to 
find and capture the mysterious mulatto. But he never 
went too far, never said anything that his tact could 
not smooth over; in fact, he was at great pains not to 
quarrel with the captain, like the squire had done, 
for the captain was evidently very sensitive within that 
rough exterior, as he had shown by not attempting to 
patch up his quarrel with the squire. 

So Jerry watched them as they breakfasted in the 
sanded parlour of the Ship, keeping in the room all he 
could and dreading to be dismissed. 

Presently the captain turned to him and inquired 



whether he had breakfasted. Jerry replied that he 
certainly had had a snack or two, but that broiled fish 
always did go down very pleasant with bread and butter 
and fresh milk, and accepted with alacrity the invitation 
from the captain to bring a chair and help himself. 

The captain got up, filled a pipe and lit it, and the 
Doctor did the same; then both men pushed their 
plates to the centre of the table, leaning their elbows 
on the cleared space; and Jerry in the centre, for all the 
world like a judge of some quaint game of skill, watched 
the opponents as they drew deliberately at their pipes, 
sending preliminary battle clouds across the table before 
the real tussle began — aye, a fight of brains, each one 
desirous of ascertaining how much the other knew or 
guessed about these strange events, but each very fear- 
ful of betraying what he guessed. So Jerry watched 
them, feeling certain that a battle was imminent, won- 
dering upon what side he would be called to fight, 
and what the end of it all would be; but with all his 
watching and wondering he didn't forget to eat, and 
eat heartily, too, for Jerry's maxim was, "Eat when 
you can, and only think when you've got to." 

The captain spoke first. 

"Doctor Syn, you heard me say at that inquiry 
yesterday that I was no strategist, that I was only a 

"I did," returned the cleric. 

"I know everything inside, outside, and around- 


about a ship, but I don't know much else, and certainly 
nothing else thoroughly, so to speak. But I have seen 
other things in my time, for all that, just as any one 
who travels is bound to see things, and, just as any one 
else that travels, I have remembered a few things out- 
side my business, just a few; the rest I've forgotten. 
Now you're different from that, for you're a scholar 
and have travelled widely, too, and a man who can use 
his book knowledge with what he comes in contact 
with in the world is the sort of man who might perhaps 
explain what's bothering me at the present moment, 
for I am dense; you are not." 

"What is bothering you. Captain.'^ Of course some- 
thing to do with these murders that are uppermost in 
our minds.^" 

"Something, I dare say," replied the captain slowly, 
weighing his every word, "but, on the other hand, 
maybe it's nothing. I can't connect the two things 
myself, and yet I've a feeling that I ought to be able to. 
I've tried, though, tried hard, been trying all through 
breakfast, and it worries me, because, as a man of 
action, thinking always does worry me sorely. You 
may laugh at what I am going to tell you; if you do I 
shan't take offence, because it's precisely what I should 
have done had any one told me about what I'm going 
to tell you, something that" — the captain hesitated, 
speaking as if he longed to keep silent; speaking as if 
afraid of being disbelieved — "something — well, I'll tell 


you first that is sounds ridiculous on the face of it, but 
something which — well, which I saw myself J* 

"Tell me," said the cleric, leaning farther forward 
over the table. 

The captain sat up rigid in his chair, took his pipe 
from between his lips, and spoke as if repeating a lesson 
that he didn't understand. 

"Once in a Cuban towTi, in a little Cuban town — 
can't remember the precise longitude and latitude — 
but that's no matter, and I can't even remember the 
name of the town or what I was doing there exactly, 
but that has no odds on the story." 

"Go on," said the cleric. 

"Well, in this little Cuban town I saw an old priest 
die. He was as dead as this table, you understand; 
the doctor said so, and I knew it. Well, imagine my 
horror when half an hour after death this old man arose, 
entered the next hut, and deliberately, brutally, and 
carefully stabbed a sleeping child to death." 

The Doctor said nothing, but just looked at the 

Jerry stopped eating and looked at Doctor Syn. He 
was pale, very pale. 

Then the captain leaned over the table and con- 
tinued speaking, but not like a lesson, for there was a 
thrill in his voice that carried conviction, so Jerry 
looked at him. 

"I found out afterward that the dead fellow had 


borne a lifelong grudge against his neighbour. The 
revenge that he had somehow failed to get during his 
lifetime he accomplished after his death. It was devil- 
ish curious." 

"It was a devilish trick," explained the Doctor. " The 
fellow was feigning death to a good purpose — namely, 
to put his neighbour off his guard. He was not really 
dead. It would be against all laws of nature — why, of 
course it would — for a man to arise and walk and 
commit a foul murder half an hour after his decease! 
Nonsense, fanciful nonsense!" 

"Against the laws of nature, I'll allow," went on 
the captain, as if he had fully expected that his story 
would be disbelieved, "but if you'll excuse me saying 
so, who are you. Doctor Syn, and for the matter of that 
who am I, to say what the laws of nature are, or to dare 
to affirm just how far they extend.^ For my own part, 
I should prefer to question my own ignorance rather 
than the laws of nature." 

"But in what way do you hint at a connection 
between this story and our present trouble in the village 
owing to this murdering-mad seaman?" 

"Why, just this," went on the captain deliberately. 
"When you caught sight of this same murdering-mad 
seaman — you remember, last night, outside the barn — I 
noticed that you took cold all of a sudden; you got the 

"Marsh ague — marsh ague," put in the cleric quickly. 


"Get it often in this place. Poor old Pepper used to 
tell me that it was the result of malaria I once had 
badly in Charleston, Carolina; nearly lost my life 
with it. Mosquito poisoning which brought on rag- 
ing malaria. I dare say he was right: I'm a frequent 
sufferer. As soon as the mists rise from the Marsh I get 
the shivers." 

"Ah, then there falls one of my points to the ground. 
Still I have another ready. Suppose we grant that your 
attack of ague had nothing to do with your sudden 
meeting with this man." 

"Of course it hadn't," muttered the Doctor. "Ab- 

"Very well, then, did you notice that the entire 
weight of the rum barrel was carried by Bill Spiker, the 

"No," said the Doctor, "I didn't notice that." 

"No more did Bill Spiker," said the captain; "you 
can lay to that, or he would have soon raised objections; 
but I did notice it, because it's my business to note 
which of my men work hardest, you understand ; for in 
cases of preferment I have to give my opinion." 

"I don't see what that has to do with the case," said 
the Doctor. "It's a common enough complaint to 
find a man shirking work." 

"Not when the man who shirks is an enthusiastic 
and willing worker. That's what made me wonder 
in the first place, and I've now come to the conclusion 


that whenever the mulatto was ordered to work alone 
— alone, mind you, without the help of the other sea- 
men — why, he could accomplish anything, but when 
he was working with anybody, he seemed, in spite of 
himself, to become singularly useless." 

"You call yourself dense. Captain, and you aflSrm 
that I am not; but you seem to have a keener perception 
of the abstruse and vague than I have, or can even 

"You w411 be able to follow me in a moment," said 
the captain humbly. "I fear it is the poor way in 
which I am getting to the point; but I have to tell 
things in my own way, not being given to talk much." 

"Go on, then, in your own way," said the cleric. 

"I then recollected that in my short acquaintance 
with this mulatto I never remember to have seen him 
in actual contact with any one, or any thing. And I 
also recollect a strong tendency among the men to 
avoid him — in fact, to keep out of any personal contact 
with him." 

"Natural enough," explained the cleric. "It is the 
white man's antipathy toward a native. Perfectly nat- 

"Perfectly," agreed Captain Collyer. "And I think 
we may add the Englishman's antipathy toward the 
uncanny and mysterious." 

"I dare say," said Doctor Syn. 

"I am sure of it," went on the captain. "Indeed, I 


went so far as to ask the bo'sun, who has had most 
deahngs with the fellow, whether he had ever touched 

''Touched him? What do you mean?" asked the 
parson, who began dimly to see what the other was 
driving at. 

" Touched, touched him," repeated the captain with 
emphasis. "The bo'sun told me 'No' and that he 
wouldn't care about it, for he considered that 'a weird- 
looking cove' — I'll use his precise way of expressing it 
— that 'a weird-looking cove with a face like a dead 'un, 
what never took food nor drink to his knowledge, 
weren't the sort of cove that a respectable seaman 
wanted to touch.'" 

Jerry looked at the Doctor. He was as white as the 
snowy tablecloth before him. Yet he still feigned not 
to quite follow the captain's meaning. 

"And now," asked the captain, "mad as it sounds, 
do you see any connection between the two cases? 
It's plain to any traveller or reader of travel books that 
some of these foreign rascals, especially the priests, 
possess strange, weird gifts that the white man's brain 
runs short of, and I want to know if you see any con- 
nection between the two cases." 

Doctor Syn's hand was trembling, so much so that 
the long clay pipe stem snapped between his finger and 
thumb. Neither seemed to notice this, though the 
lighted ashes had fallen out of the bowl upon the table- 


cloth and had burned innumerable holes in it before 
going out. 

"Do you see any connection, Doctor Syn?" asked 
the captain, leaning right over the table and bringing 
his face close to the cleric. 

Doctor Syn did not answer. 

The captain repeated the sentence once more — with 
all the emphasis and force that he could put into his 
compelling voice: 

"Any connection between the Cuban priest who was 
able to commit deliberate murder after death by con- 
trolling the enormous will power of his revenge upon 
that one definite object? Do you see any connection, 
I say, between that man and a man who was marooned 
upon a coral reef in the Southern Pacific being able to 
follow his murderer across the world in the beastly 
hulk of his dead self .^ I don't understand it, nor do you, 
perhaps, but I fancy that I see the semblance of a con- 
nection, and what I want to know is, can you.^" 

Then Doctor Syn did a surprising thing: He slowly 
raised his face to the level of the captain's, then brought 
his eyes to meet the captain's gaze, and then, drawing his 
lips apart, laying his white teeth bare, he slowly drew 
over his face, from the very depths of his soul, it seemed, 
a smile — a fixed smile that steadily beamed all over him 
for at least a quarter of a minute before he said : 

"You most remarkable man! A King's captain, eh.^^ 
I vow you have mistaken your calling." And he de- 


liberately and with the flat of his white hand patted the 
captain's rough cheek, patted it as though the captain 
were a child being petted or a puppy being teased. 

"What the thunder do you mean?" roared the in- 
furiated officer, "by calling ? Mistake my calling ? " 

"Your profession," said Doctor Syn, calmly putting 
on his cloak and hat. 

"What would you have me then?" cried the seaman. 

"I wouldn't have you any other than what you are, 
sir," replied Doctor Syn, with his hand on the door 
latch — "a thoroughly entertaining and vastly amusing 
old seadog, mahogany as a dinner wagon, and loaded 
with so many fancies as to be creaking near the break- 
ing point." 

The captain was so taken aback with the extraordi- 
nary manner of the Doctor that he could only look 
and gasp. Doctor Syn, perfectly at ease, opened the 

"I wonder?" he said in a low voice, almost tenderly, 
Jerry thought. 

The captain, with a great effort, managed to ejacu- 
late, "What?" 

"Why your mother sent you to sea, for as an apothe- 
cary — an apothecary — aye, yes, indeed, what a magnifi- 
cent analyzing apothecary the world has missed in 
you, sir." And to the captain's amazement and Jerry's 
astonishment the vicar went out, closing the door behind 


The captain could do nothing but stare at the closed 
door, while Jerry, perceiving nothing entertaining in 
that, stared at the captain, who suddenly exploded out 
in his great sea voice : 

"An apothecary, an analyzing apothecary! What 
in the devil's name does he mean by that?" 

Jerry still looked at the captain. Certainly he had 
never beheld any one more unlike an apothecary. By 
the widest stretch of his imagination he could not pic- 
ture the captain mixing drugs or making experiments. 

"It's my opinion " he said, and then hesitated. 

"Yes?" thundered the captain, with an eagerness 
that seemed to welcome any opinion. 

" — well, it's my opinion, sir, that Doctor Syn is off his 
head — mad, sir." 

"And it's my opinion, potboy," said the captain, as 
if he valued his own opinion as highly as Jerry Jerk's, 
"it's my opinion that he's nothing of the kind. He's 
feigning madness. He had to do something, you see, 
to get out of the room, so he called me something that 
he knew would take my breath away for the moment, 
knowing me to be dense, and he succeeded, for if any 
man was unqualified to be an apothecary, I'm the fel- 
low. An analyzing apothecary!" 

Then the captain sat down in the armchair and 
laughed till the tears rolled down his cheeks, and Jerry 
was obliged to join in, though he didn't know what he 
was laughing at. At length he stopped and became 


most suddenly grave. Getting up, he placed his hands 
on Jerry's shoulders. 

"Look here, potboy," he said, "you and I have com- 
mon secrets that I know. What the devil you were 
doing out on the Marsh the night before last I don't 
know, but that you saw the schoolmaster kill Pepper I 
do know." 

" You know ? " cried Jerk, utterly astonished. "Then 
Doctor Syn must have told you, for I never breathed 
a word." 

"I know all about it, my boy, because I was hiding 
in the same dyke as you. Now see here, from what 
I've seen of you, I imagine you can be relied upon. 
We'll pluck a leaf out of that parson's book. We'll 
find out his mystery. We'll find out the whole mystery 
of this damned Marsh, and as to being apothecaries, 
why, damme, so we will. We'll take him at his word." 

"And be apothecaries, sir.^" asked Jerry, more puz- 
zled now than ever. 

"Yes," cried the captain, slapping his great hands 
up and down upon Jerry's shoulders. "Apothecaries 
make experiments, don't they.^" 

"I dare say they do, sir," replied Jerk. 

"Well, so will we, my lad," went on the captain, as 
happy as a sand boy. "We'll set a trap for all this 
mystery to walk into. We'll set a big trap, my lad — 
big enough to hold all the murderers and mulattoes on 
the Marsh, the demon riders as well, and certainly not 


forgetting the coffins in Mipps's shop nor the bottles of 
Alsace Lorraine beneath this floor. We'll catch the lot, 
my boy, and analyze 'em. Yes, damn 'em! we'll ana- 
lyze 'em, inside and outside, by night and by day. 
And when we've analyzed 'em thoroughly, why, we'll 
give 'em to Jack Ketch — to old Jack Ketch, who'll 
hang 'em up to dry. Not a word, my boy, to any one; 
not a word. Here's a guinea bit to hold your tongue; 
and look to hear from me before the day's out, for I 
shall want your help to-morrow night." 

And the captain was gone. Literally rushed out of 
the door he had, leaving Jerk alone in a whirl. 

"Well," he said to himself, "if a man ever deserved a 
third breakfast, I'm the one, and here goes; for both of 
these fellows is stark, staring mad, though it's wonder- 
ful the way they all seems to take to me." 

And thrusting the precious guinea bit into his pocket, 
Jerk again vigorously attacked the victuals. 



TALK about an 'ealthy child, and there he is," 
said Mrs. Waggetts, entering the sanded par- 
lour with Sexton Mipps. **i.\nd eat; nothing 
like eating to increase your fat, is there. Mister Mipps? 
But, there, I suppose you never had no fat on you to 
speak of, 'cos if ever a man was one of Pharaoh's lean 
kine, you was." 

"It's hard work wot's kept me thin, Missus Wag- 
getts," replied the sinister sexton; "hard work and 
scheming; and a little of both would do our young Jerry 
here no harm." 

"As to work," replied Jerry, gulping down more 
food, "there ain't been no complaints against me, I 
believes, Missus Waggetts.^" 

"Certainly not, Jerry, my boy," replied that lady 

"That's good," said Jerk, and then turning to the 
sexton he added: "And as to scheming, Mister Sexton, 
how do you know I don't scheme .^^ Some folks are so 
took up with their own schemes that p'raps they don't 
get time to notice wot others are a-doin'. I has lots of 



schemes, I has. I thinks about 'em by day, I does, and 
dreams of 'em at night." 

"And they gives you a rare knack of puttin' away 
Missus Waggetts' victuals, I'm a-noticin'," dryly re- 
marked the sexton. 

"Lor', I'm sure he's heartily welcome to anything 
I've got," returned the landlady. "It fair cheers me 
up to see him eat well, and it'll be a fine man he'll be 
making in a year or so." 

"Aye, that I will," cried young Jerk; "and when I'm 
a hangman I ain't a-goin' to forget my old friend. I'll 
come along from the town every Sunday, I will, and 
we'll go and hear Parson Syn preach just the same as 
we does now, and Mister Mipps will show us into the 
pew, and everybody will turn round and stare at us and 
say: *Why, there goes Hangman Jerk!' Then we'll 
come back and have a bite of supper together, that is 
providing I don't have to sup with the squire at the 
Court House." 

"That 'ud be likely," interrupted Mipps. 

"And, after we've had supper, I'll tell you stories 
about horrible sights I've seen in the week, and terrible 
things I've done, and it'll go hard with Sexton Mipps to 
keep even with me with weird yarnin', I tells you." 

"Ha! ha!" chuckled Mipps. "Strike me dead and 
knock me up slipshod in a buckrum coffin, if this man 
Jerry Jerk don't please me. Look at him. Missus 
Waggetts. Will you please do me the favour of lookin' 


at him hard, though don't let it put you off your feed, 
Jerry. Why, at your age I had just such notions as 
you've got, but then I never had your advantages. 
Why, at thirteen years of age I was as growed up in 
my fancies as this Jerk. Sweetmeats to devil, eh, 
Jerry .'^ for it's some who grows above such garbage 
from their first rocking in the cradle. This Jerry Jerk 
is a man; why, bless you, he's more a man than lots of 
'em what thinks they be. Aye, more a man than some 
of 'em wot's a-doin' man's work." 

"That's so," said Mrs. Waggetts, enthusiastically 
backing the sexton up. "And don't you forget that 
he owns a bit of land on the Marsh, and so he's a Marsh- 
man proper." 

"I doesn't forget it," said Mipps, "and I've been 
tellin' certain folk wot had, how things were goin* with 
Hangman Jerk, and I've made 'em see that although 
only a child in regard to age, he ain't no child in his 
deeds, and so they agreed with me, Missus Waggetts, 
that it 'ud be unjust not to let him have full Marsh- 
man's privileges; and I'll go bail that Jerk won't dis- 
grace me by not livin' up to them privileges." 

"P'raps I won't, IVIister Sexton, when I knows what 
them privileges are." 

"You listen and I'll tell you," answered the sexton. 

"And listen well, Jerry," added Mrs. Waggetts, "for 
what Mister !Mipps is a-goin' to say will like as not be 
the makin' of you." 


"I will listen most certainly," replied Jerk, "so soon 
as Mister Mipps gets on with it. I'm all agog to listen, 
but there's no use in listenin' afore he begins, is there 

"Jerry," said the sexton, "you're just one after my 
own heart. You ought to have lived in my days, when 
I was a lad. Gone to sea and got amongst the inter- 
estin' gentlemen like I did. Aye, they was interestin'. 
And reckless they was, too. They was rough — none 
rougher; but I don't grudge 'em all the kicks they give 
me. Why, it made a man o' me, young Jerk. I tell 
you. Master Jerry, that bad as them sea adventurers 
was, and bad they was — my eye — yes, buccaneers, 
pirates, and all the rest of it — but bad as they was they 
did some good, for they made a man o' me, Jerry. I 
should never have been the sort o' man I is now if them 
ruffians hadn't kindly knocked the nonsense out o' 

"Shouldn't you, though.^" said Jerry. 

"Never, never!" said the sexton with conviction. 
"But mind you," he went on, "you has advantages 
wot I never had. I had to learn all the tricks o' my 
trade, and I had to buy my experience. There was no 
kind friend to teach me my tricks o' trade, no benevo- 
lent old cove wot 'ud pay for my experience. No, I had 
to buy and learn for myself, but, my stars and garters ! 
afore they'd done with me I had 'em all scared o' me. 
Even England hisself didn't a-relish my tantrums; and 


when I was in a regular blinder, why, I solemnly be- 
lieves he was scared froze o' me. There was only one 
man my superior in all the time I sailed them golden 
seas, and that man was Clegg hisself. I served on his 
ship, you know. Jerk. I was carpenter, master car- 
penter, mind you, to Clegg hisself — to no less a man 
than Clegg. And on Clegg's own ship it were, too. 
She was called the Imogene. I never knew why she 
was called so. It sounds a high fiddaddley sort o' 
name for a pirate ship, but then Clegg was a regular 
gentleman in his tastes. Why, I remember him sittin' 
so peaceful on the roundhouse roof one day a-readin' 
of Virgil — and not in the vulgar tongue, neither. He 
was a-readin' it in the foreign language wot it was first 
wrote in, so he told me. And you couldn't somehow 
get hold o' the fact that that benign-lookin' cove wot 
was sittin' there so peaceful a-readin' learned books 
had maybe half an hour before strung up a mutineer 
to the yardarms or made some wealthy fat merchant 
walk the dirty plank. No, he was a rummun, and no 
mistake, was that damned old pirate Clegg. But I'd 
pull my forelock, supposing I had one, all day long to 
old Clegg, even were I the Archbishop of Canterbury 
and he only an out-at-heel seadog. Now with Eng- 
land it was different, as I told you, though I'll own he 
could beat the devil hisself for blasphemy when he was 
put out. But I wasn't afraid o' him; he was one you 
could size up like. But Clegg — oh, he was different. 


Show me the man wot could size up Clegg, and I'd make 
him Leveller of Romney Marsh, aye, King of England, 
supposin' I had the power. There was only one man 
wot I ever seed wot made Clegg turn a hair, and that 
was a rascally Cuban priest, but then he had devil 
powers, he had. Ugh!" And the sexton relapsed into 
silence. His listeners watched him, and, watching, 
they saw him shiver. What old scene of horror was 
flashing before that curious little man's mind's eye.'^ 
Ah, who could tell? No living body, for the crew of the 
Imogene had all died violent deaths one after another 
in different lands, and since Clegg was hanged at Rye, 
why, Mipps was the only veteran left of that historical 
ship of crime, the Imogene. 

"Pray get on with the business in hand, Mister 
IVIipps," said Mrs. Waggetts, "for though I declare I 
could a-listen to you a-philosphizin' and a-moralizin' 
all day long, young Jerk is all agog. Ain't you, Jerry .'^ " 

"That's so," replied young Jerk. "Please get on, 
Mister Sexton." 

"I will," said Mr. Mipps. "You may wonder now, 
Jerry Jerk, how it has been possible for a swaggerin' 
adventurer like I be, or rather was one time, when I was 
a handsome, fine standin* young fellow aboard the 
Imogene — I say you may fall to wonderin' how I come 
to be a sexton and to live the dull, dreary life of a hum- 
drum villager. Well, I'll tell you now straight out, 
man to man, and when I've told you, why, you'll under- 


stand all the mystery wot I'm a-gettin' at." The sexton 
smote his hand upon the table so that all the break- 
fast dishes jumped into different positions on the table, 
and the two words he said as his fist crashed down were 
these: "I couldn't!" 

"Couldn't what?" asked Jerk, whose anxiety for the 
breakfast dishes' safety had driven the context of the 
sexton's speech from his mind. 

*' Couldn't live a humdrum life after the high jinks 
I had at sea." 

"But you did, Mister Sexton, and, what's more, 
you're a-doin' it now," replied young Jerk with some 
show of sarcasm. 

"And very prettily you can act, can't you, Hangman 
Jerk.f^" said Mr. Mipps, winking. "I declare you're a 
past-master in the way of pretendin'. Well, pretendin' 
all's very well, but it's often plain-spoken truth wot 
serves as a safer weapon for roguish fellows, and it's 
plain-spoken truth I'm a-goin' to use to you, believin' 
in my heart that if ever there was a roguish fellow 
livin', and one after my old heart, why, Hangman Jerk is 
that fellow." 

"Please get on, JVIister Sexton," said Jerry, feeling 
rather important. 

"Yes, get on, get on," repeated Mrs. Waggetts, "for 
I'm a-longin' to hear how he takes it." 

"Can you doubt .'^ I don't," replied Mipps. "I bet my 
head he'll take it as a man, won't you, Jerry Jerk, eh?" 


"I'll tell you when I knows wot it is," replied the 

"Why, what a talky old party I've become. Time 
was when I never uttered a word — but do — ah, I was 
one to do. And much and quick I did, too." 

"We knows that very well, thank you. Mister Sex- 
ton," said Jerry. "That is, we knows it if we knows 
your word can be relied upon." 

"You may lay to that," said Mipps, "and you may 
lay that in our future dealings together you can depend 
on me a-standin' by you as long as you lay the straight 
course with me." 

"I'll take your word for that," responded Jerk. 
"Now p'raps you will get on.^^" 

"Well," said the sexton, "I must begin with the 
Marsh — the Romney Marsh. No one knows better 
than you do that she's a queer sort of a corner, is Rom- 
ney Marsh. I've seen you a-prowlin' and a-nosin' 
about on her. You scented excitement, you did, on the 
Marsh. You smelt out a mystery, and like a lad of 
adventurous spirit you wanted to find out the meanin' 
of it all. Very natural. I should have done the same 
when I was a lad. W^ell, now the whole business is 
this: the Marsh don't approve of folks a-nosin' and 
a-prowlin' after her secrets, see?" And the sexton's 
face grew suddenly fierce: all those lines of quizzical 
humour vanished from around that peculiar mouth 
and left a face of diabolical cruelty, of cunning, and of 


deceit. But eTerk was not easily unnerved or put out 
of countenance. There was something about Mipps 
that put him on his mettle and stimulated him. He 
liked Mipps, but he liked to keep even with him, for his 
own self-respect, which was very great, for in some 
things Jerry Jerk was most inordinately proud. 

"Oh, the Marsh don't approve, eh.^^ And who or 
what might be the power on the Marsh to tell you so?" 

"The great ruler o' the Marsh — the man with no 
name who successfully runs his schemes and makes his 
sons prosperous." 

"That'll be the squire, then," said Jerry promptly, 
"for he's the Leveller of Marsh Scotts, ain't he.^^ He 
makes the laws for the Marshmen, don't he.^^" 

"He does that certainly," agreed the sexton. "But 
whether or no he's the power what brings luck to the 
Marshmen — Marshmen, mind you, worthy of the name 
— neither you nor me nor nobody can tell. Sufficient 
for us that the Marsh is ruled by a power, a mysterious 
power, wot brings gold and to spare to the Marshmen's 

"Ah, then," said Jerry, with his eyes blazing, "then 
I was right. There are smugglers on the Marsh." 

"There are," said the sexton; "and it's wealthy men 
they be, though you'd never guess at it, and darin', 
adventurous cusses they be, and rollickin' good times 
they gets, and no danger to speak of, 'cos the whole 
blessed concern is run by a master brain wot never 


seems to make mistakes, and it was this same master 
brain wot agreed that you should share the privileges 
o' the Marsh, and I was ordered to recruit you." 

**0h! and what'll be required o' me?" asked Jerk, 
"supposin' I thinks about it." 

"You'll be given a horse, and you'll ride with the 
Marsh witches, learn their trade, and be apprenticed 
to their callin'." 

"And how do you know I won't blab and get you and 
your fellows the rope.^^" asked Jerry bravely. 

"Because we've sized you up, w^e 'as, and we don't 
suspect you of treachery. If we did, it wouldn't much 
matter to us, though I should be right sorry to have 
been disappointed in you, for I declare I don't know 
when I took to a young man like I 'as to you. You're 
my fancy, you are, Jerry. Just like I was at your age. 
Mad for adventure and for the life of real men." 

"Yes, but just supposin' that I did disappoint you. 
Mister Sexton.? It's well to hear all sides, you know." 

"Aye, it's well and wise, too, and I'll tell you. If it 
was to your advantage to betray us — to that captain 
p'raps — w^ell, I daresay you'd do it now, wouldn't you.^^ " 

"I don't know," said Jerk; "all depends. P'raps I 
might, though. You never knows, does you.^^ " 

"No, you never knows. Quite right. But you'd 
know one thing: that go where you would, or hide where 
you liked, we'd get 3^ou in time, and when we did get 
you it 'ud be short shrift for you — you may lay to that." 


"I daresay," said Jerry, "unless, of course, I got you 

** You'd have a good number to get, my lad," laughed 
the sexton. "But it's no use a-harguin' like this. 
You won't betray us when it don't serve your turn to 
do so, and it won't do that, 'cos we has very fine pros- 
pects open for you, and advantages. Why, we can 
set you in the way of rollin' in a coach before we've 
done with you, and who knows, years hence, when 
you're older than you be now, who knows but what you 
might not succeed to the headship. If anything was 
to happen to the great chief wot's to prevent you from 
takin' his place, eh.'* You're smart, ain't you.? There's 
no gainsay in' that, now, is there. Missus Waggetts.?" 

"No, indeed," replied that lady. 

"Then take my tip, the straight tip of an old gentle- 
man o' fortune, and you join us." 

"What'll I have to do and what is it I'm a-joinin', 
though?" asked the boy. 

"The great scheme of wool-runnin'," said Mr. Mipps. 

"Ah," sighed Jerry, "I thought as much. And what 
am I to do, always supposin' that I'm willin' to join.'^" 

"We've a vacancy in the horsemen — a man short, 
you see, though we've got the horse. It's Mr. Rash's 
horse, but we've turned out the schoolmaster and kept 
his horse. He weren't one of us, you see, so we found 
that we didn't want him no more." 

" You've killed him? " cried the hangman, starting up. 


"I didn't say that," retorted the sexton. "I merely 
remarked that we didn't want him no more. And now 
just give me your attention. I've every reason to be- 
lieve, and so has the great chief that I work for, that 
you are gettin' very thick with that swab of a King's 
captain. Well, now, don't go suddenly a-givin' him 
the cold shoulder, do you see? You can't drop a friend 
all at once like a hot potato without excitin' the gossip 
and suspicion of folk; so remember what I says and 
keep civil to him. But it's my opinion that after to- 
night you'll know which side you be on, for once get 
the thrill of the demon ride and you'll not want to get 
dismissed. Besides, gettin' dismissed by our chief 
ain't exactly what you might term a pleasant form of 
bein' entertained." 

"And what do I do. Mister Sexton.?" 

"You'll get told all in good time." 

"But what do the demon riders do.^^ " persisted the boy. 

"Frighten folk from the Marsh when the ponies are 
trottin' under the wool packs." 

"And where do the wool packs come from?" 

"From nearly every farm on the Marsh." 

"And they put it all in packs and send 'em down to 
the coast?" 

" That's the ticket, my lad. Pack 'em all up on ponies 
and bring back coffins full of spirit from France." 

"Coffins full of spirit from France?" repeated the 
amazed boy. 


"Yes, that's why I'm a coffin-maker. What would 
you expect to see inside a nailed-up coffin, eh? " 

'* Why, a dead 'un," said the boy. 

"Exactly; and as folk ain't particular fond of amusin' 
themselves with a sight of dead 'uns they lets my cof- 
fins alone, do you see, and the spirit is treated with 
every respect and is allowed to go on its way very snug 
and all knocked up most particular solid." 

*' And the head of it all's the squire, is it?" 

"I never said so," replied the sexton quickly; "but 
the less you think and say on that subject the better, 
for those who know the identity of the great chief would 
sooner have their eyes put out than betray him; so 
don't you hamper your young career with thinkin' about 
it. All you've got to do is to obey." 

"And what do I get out of it? " 

" Gold and the time of your life." 

"x\nd when do I start? " 


"To-night?" faltered Jerk much relieved, for he had 
thought of his promise to help the captain, and was 
greatly thankful that the dates had not clashed. 

"At half -past twelve at Old Tree Cottage; but don't 
go to the coffin-shop side. Tap at the back kitchen 

"And half-past twelve, you say?" 

"That's the time," answered Mipps, holding out his 
hands and seizing Jerk's in both his. "And I can tell 


at a glance that your a-goin' to be a credit to the under- 

And a minute afterward he was gone and Jerk was 
sent by Mrs. Waggetts into the bar to poHsh up the 



j4 BOUT noon of the same day Captain Collyer, 
/% in walking through the village, found himself 
X JL passing Old Tree Cottage, the low-lying resi- 
dence of Sexton Mipps, with its coffin shop facing the 
street and its small farmhouse behind. Attracted 
by a great noise of hammering, the captain stepped up 
to the window and glanced in. Rows of coffins lined 
the walls and coffin planks were everywhere propped up 
against shelves containing everything imaginable. In 
the centre of the shop stood two black trestle-stools, and 
upon these funeral relics reposed a large coffin with no 
lid. Inside this gloomy thing sat Mr. Mipps. He was 
sitting straight up and hammering lustily upon the 
coffin sides, singing away with much spirit to the 
rhythm : 

O hammer, hammer, hammer. 

And damn her, damn her, damn her, 

For I don't fear my wife now she's dead. 

The captain, amused at the crude words, pushed 
open the casement and leaned into the room. Whether 



the sexton saw him or not the captain did not know, but 
the song changed immediately to a song of the sea: 

There*s no swab Hke the captain, 

There's no swab Hke the captain. 

Of all the swabs I've ever seen 

With a diddle diddle diddle diddle diddle diddle dee 

No swab like the captain. 

"A very appropriate song, Master Sexton," laughed 
the captain. 

Mipps turned round and surveyed the intruder. 

"Why, knock me up solid if it ain't the good captain! 
The gold of the high noon to you, sir, though there 
ain't much gold in the sky to-day. I take it as a very 
friendly piece of impertinence that you should come and 
look me up so unexpected. Had I knowed of your 
arrival I'd have had these grizzly relics stowed away, 
for some folk has a distinct dislike to lookin' at these 
last dwellin' houses." 

"You are used to 'em, I suppose, by now.^" said the 

"Oh, love you, yes, I don't mind 'em. Some under- 
takers has fearful superstitions about coffins. Some 
won't get in 'em to measure 'em. Lord! I always does. 
I lies down inside 'em and pops the lid on the top to see 
if it's airtight." 

"Awkward if the lid was to stick." 

"You may well say that, 'cos once it did. But it 


weren't so much awkward as peaceful, for after I'd 
pushed and struggled for a power o' time, I just resigned 
myself to my fate, feelin' thankful that at any rate I 
had had the privilege of bein' my own undertaker. I 
shall never forget my feelin's when my last bit of breath 
came up and went out. It was just the sort o' feelin' 
you gets when you drowns, only more so. 'Cos when 
you drowns you sees all the bad actions of your life a- 
troopin' before you, but gettin' buried alive is different, 
'cos you sees all the good actions wot you've done. 
Mind you, things I'd clean forgot. Little acts of kind- 
ness wot I thought could never have been recorded any- 
where. Why, they all walked out, and I seemed to be 
greatly comforted, 'cos, you see, I thought as how I was 
quite in the runnin' for heaven. In fact I was so pleased 
with my past self that I fairly kicked with delight, and 
that was the means of bringin' me back to earth, 'cos 
over went these trestles, and the jar I got knocked the 
stuck lid off. No, I've been near gone these many times, 
but never so near gone as that, for, as you see, I was 
finished with the undertaker having undertook myself, 
and I only had to be passed through the parson's hands 
and get knocked over the sconce with the sexton's 
shovel, as Shakespeare says in the play, to be a real 
'gonner,' stiff and proper." 

"A horrible experience. Master Sexton," returned the 

"It was in a sense. But I could tell you horribler. 


I takes a pride in my business, same as you might in 
yours. That's why I went round the world." 

"Oh, you've been round the world, have you?" said 
the captain. 

^*Not once nor twice, but many times, and do you 
know why?" 

"Perhaps the life of the get-rich-quick bucca- 
neers appealed to you?" remarked Captain Collyer 

"There you go — suspicious. Can't you adapt your- 
self for five minutes? Can't you make an effort w^hen 
you're a-gossipin' with honest folk to forget that there 
is dishonest ones? I never did see the like. Here we 
be chattin' quite friendly, and forgettin' our little dif- 
ferences, when you starts accusin' me of bein' a Cap- 
tain Clegg or an England. Do I look like a bold pirate 
now\'^ Lookin' at me straight sittin' up in this 'ere 
coffin, could you say that I looked like a swaggerin' 
gentleman o' fortune. No, you couldn't. Very well, 
then, why go and make unpleasant insinuations against 
a respectable sexton o' the realm? Mind you, I don't 
say as howl didn't come across some of that breed durin' 
my travels, and I don't say as how circumstance, that 
fickle woman, didn't at times make me work for 'em. 
But not for long. I held no sort o' likes with the 
likes o' them, and though some of 'em had most engagin* 
ways, it was easy to see that they was all of 'em un- 
adulterated sinners. And swear? God bless your eyes, 


Captain, it made you blush like a damned woman to 
hear 'em." 

"And if it was not for gold and adventure that you 
went, may I ask what tempted you abroad?" 

"Certainly, Captain. It was the love of my work. 
The zeal to have a look at other sextons, vergers, and 
undertakers and see what they were a-doin' with the 
business. But Lord love you, Captain, I soon found 
as how funerals was done on different plans abroad. 
Why, I could tell you some things I seed with regard 
to burials abroad what 'ud make your flesh creep — aye, 
and now, too, though the sun is high in the heaven." 

"Well, IVe an hour to spare. Master Sexton. What 
do you say to coming along to the Ship and enjoying a 
drink and a friendly pipe?" 

"I thinks I can do one better than that, thankin' 
you kindly," said the sexton, vaulting with marvellous 
dexterity out of the lofty coflSn to the floor, "for IVe 
baccy, pipes, and good brandy all to hand, and if you'd 
care to spend an hour with Sexton Mipps and listen to 
his babbles, why, light your ^strike me dead' and gulp 
your spirits and settle your hulk in that there coffin, what 
hasn't got no passenger inside — so don't be frightened 
— and we'll shut the window, for it's a-blowin' the fire 
out; and if you ain't cozy, well, it's not the fault of the 
sexton, is it now?" And then Mr. Mipps, after busily 
providing his guest with the requisites for smoke and 
drink, and after splitting up a coffin plank to renew the 


fire, sprang back into the coffin, sitting snug with a glass 
of brandy and his clay pipe. The captain also was 
ensconced on a coffin in the corner, and to the crackle 
of the split coffin plank upon the fire the sexton began to 



FUNERALS may be divided into three classes, 
for there be solemn funerals, there be grizzly 
funerals, and there be funny 'uns. The fun- 
niest funeral I ever did see was in China. Do you 
know, Captain, they very seldom buries out there? 
They leaves the blasted coffins above ground. The 
whole of the countryside is a-littered with 'em. For 
untidy burials China waves the flag, and they has other 
very funny customs about funerals out there, too. When 
a fellow goes and dies out there it's a devil of a busi- 
ness he has to go through before he gets fixed up final. 
Every family out there 'as their own very particular 
priest, you understand, and this very particular priest 
is always a very sly sort o' dog. The dead 'un is put 
into the coffin, and then the family pays their sly dog a 
considerable sum o' money in exchange for very hard 
prayers wot the sly dog makes for 'em to his gods. He 
goes away and prays for weeks on end, askin' his gods 
just where exactly the family ought to bury their dead 
'un to enable him to get into heaven by the most con- 
venient route. And as the sly dog gets paid all the 



time he's a-prayin', you can bet your wig that he pre- 
tends to string them prayers out to some length. And 
I can tell you those Chinese parsons were up to one or 
two smart wrinkles. I'll tell you about a certain Ling 
Fu Quong. Well, if I hadn't rung the curtain down, as 
the stage players say, upon that gent's httle comedy, 
I believes he'd be drawin' in a salary now for a fellow 
what died some forty years ago. You see it happened 
like this: I had had business deals on with a smug- 
faced Chinese merchant wot did business at Shanghai. 
Well, when I was about to sail for the old country, old 
smug face came to say how sorry he was I was a-goin' 
to leave, and hoped he'd have the pleasure of doin' 
business with me again when I come back. Well, we 
started talkin' and I told him that I should very much 
like to see a Chinese funeral, and old smug face said 
that he would gladly oblige me, because a very partic- 
ular old uncle of his had died and his funeral was shortly 
to take place. Well, the upshot of it all was that I was 
invited to go up the river on smug face's boat to Soo- 
chow, where he lived and where his uncle had died, a 
city some sixty miles away or thereabouts. So there 
I accordingly went. Have you ever been on one o' 
them large sampans. Captain.'^ No.'^ Well, it's a long 
sort o' boat, fitted up very snug indeed, with flowers all 
trailin' over the side, and all fixed up to look like an 
old homestead sailin' on the river. After a very pleas- 
ant trip — and. Lord love you, I did make that old 


Chinaman laugh telHn' him things, for I could speak 
their lingo very well, you understand — well, after a 
very pleasant trip we gets to Soochow, and a rummy old 
place it was. It stood right on top of the river, with 
its old walls runnin' straight down into the muddy 
water. It was a strong town and important, a town of 
fighters and wealthy merchantmen. Well, they was 
all very pleased to see me and received me very proper. 
Most of 'em was a-lookin' over the wall a-wavin' flags 
at me, and them as 'adn't got none w^ere a-wavin' their 
pigtails. I might 'ave been the great Cham for all the 
fuss they made o' me. O' course, mind you, I had my 
enemies. There was a sort o' lord mayor o' the place 
wot I could see didn't quite approve of me bein' the 
nine days' wonder, but he was one of them self-centred 
sort o' coves wot don't like any one to have a fling but 
hisself. But I didn't mind him, for, although I was 
only a little fellow, I had an eye like a vulture, a nose 
like a swordfish, and when I was put out, a way of 
lashin' myself about like a tiger's tail wot used to scare 
them natives. O' course, mind you, it wasn't pleasant 
when you come to think of it, 'cos there I was the only 
Englishman amongst them millions of yellow jacks. 
But an Englishman's an Englishman all the world over, 
ain't he. Captain.^ and he wants a bit of squashin', and 
so that lord mayor discovered, 'cos one day I walked 
right up to him in the street and I clacked my teeth at 
him so very loud that he ran home and never annoyed 


me no more. But I was a-goin' to tell you about that 
funeral. When we got to the front door of old smug 
face's house we discovered his uncle's coffin reposin' 
upon the doorstep very peaceful but in a most awkward 
sort of position, 'cos you had to crawl over the blarsted 
thing to get in or out o' the door." 

"* Lord love you, my most excellent Mipps,' cried old 
smug face when he saw it, 'why, this'll never do, now will 
it, for my late lamented uncle' — I forget the uncle's 
name but it was Ling something — *is fairly blocking 
up the entrance, ain't it?' 

"*Ling Fu Quong,' I replied, 'you've hit it, for if we 
'as to do steeplechase over that there thing every time 
we wants to get out o' doors for a breather, well, we'll 
fair tire ourselves out.' And so old smug face agreed, 
and he accordingly sent for the family sly dog, by which 
I mean, o' course, the family parson. Well, old sly 
dog arrived, and of all the fat, self-satisfied looking 
bouncers I ever seed, he took the cake. It was easy 
to see as how he made a good thing out of his job. Well, 
my old friend smug face begins telling him how awk- 
ward it was havin' a coffin right across the front door, 
and old sly dog said as how he were very sorry, but it 
were just in that place wot the gods had told him to put 

"* Don't you think that if we were to offer sacred 
crackers to the gods that they might find as how they've 
been mistook.^ ' suggested smug face. 


"'I'll have a try, oh, bereaved one,' answered sly 
dog, a-rubbin' his fat hands with invisible soap, a habit 
he was very fond of practisin' and a habit wot always 
sets my teeth on edge, soap bein' to my mind such an 
unnecessary sort o' institootion. 

"So my old friend unlocks his treasure chest and 
forks out a regular king's ransom, which he gives to the 
sly priest to buy crackers with just to persuade the gods 
to change their minds. And I tells you that if old sly 
dog had really spent all that money in crackers, why, 
Gunpowder Plot wouldn't have been in it. Anyhow, 
the priest left us with the money, and we spent the 
next few days a-climbin' over that inconvenience when- 
ever we ventured to go out or in doors. You must 
understand also that coffins out in China ain't the 
neat sort of contrivance like we've got here. Oh, Lord 
love you, no, for of all the great cumbersome family 
coaches I ever seed in the coffin line, them Chinese 
ones took the cake. 

"Well, in a few days back comes the sly dog lookin' 
more prosperous than ever. It was very plain to me 
that he'd been havin' a good time with that money, 
and if he had spent five minutes in prayers to his gods 
I should be very much surprised. Well, he tells my 
old friend the merchant as how we had to turn out of 
the house for that night, because the gods had promised 
to visit him that night if he stayed all alone along of the 
coffin, and they would then say whether it was possible 


for the coffin to be moved. So we had to turn out, 
much to my annoyance, and go to another house wot 
was owned by a friend of my smug-faced friend. Well, 
I wasn't particular about where we stopped, though I 
could see smug face didn't like turning out his house, 
but I felt annoyed to see how very easily he knuckled 
under to whatever the priest said. So we went away, 
as I say, for that night. Now the nights come up cold 
in China, and we both had got two very snivelly noses 
wot had been brought on by the draughts tlu-ough not 
being able to shut that front door. Next morning sly 
dog came round to say that the gods would visit the 
house every night and see just where they could order 
the coffin to be moved to, and in the meantime sly 
dog was to spend his days and nights in the house, and 
a very comfortable time he had of it, you may be sure, 
for my friend the merchant had got a house well stored 
with very good things. 

"At the end of a week sly dog comes round to say 
that the gods had decided to move the coffin, and that 
he had seen their orders carried out. So after giving 
him more money, much to my indignation, for I couldn't 
bear to see my friend imposed upon, we left him and 
set off for the house. And where do you think that 
dirty fat priest had put that coffin .^^ " 

"Where?" queried the captain. 

"Why, in the bed where I was supposed to sleep. 
Now this really did rouse the devil in me, and I deter- 


mined to get even with that priest. But I had to think 
things over very carefully. You see if I objected to 
sleepin' in the same bed as the coffin, my friend the 
smug-faced merchant, who had really been kindness 
itself to me, might think I thought myself superior to 
sleepin' with his uncle, and that I knew would offend 
him, 'cos the Chinese seem to bear a most ridiculous 
respect towards their dead relations. So I decided 
that, come what might, I would certainly sleep there, 
and at the same time I hit upon a scheme for the im- 
doin' of that priest. 

"Next morning I woke up after a very pleasant sleep 
alongside that coffin, and felt much refreshed, though 
o' course I wasn't goin' to let 'em know that. When 
my friend asked me how I had slept I told him very 
badly, 'cos all through the night the old uncle in the 
coffin kept awakin' up and askin' if I would go and fetch 
the priest. So smug face sends round at once to sly 
dog for me to tell him all about it. 

"'Did the late lamented uncle of this bereaved man 
really converse with thee in the night, O Englishman.'*' 
asked the priest, tryin' to look very knowin'. I was 
longin' to reply by givin' him one in his fat mouth, but 
I pulled myself together and answered very respectfully : 

"*0f a truth did the late lamented uncle of this 
bereaved one' — a-jerkin' my thumb towards smug face 
— * converse with my contemptible self in the small 
hours of the dawn previous to the inestimable crowing 


of the invaluable cock upon the temple roof. Of a truth 
did he converse with me, indeed, and say unto me' — I 
could speak their lingo very well in those days, I could 
— ' "Send for the wise and learned priest of the family 
and tell him that I have much to say unto him on mat- 
ters of most heavenly importance, and command him 
to sleep upon the very spot where thou art now sleep- 
ing, O foreigner of the white face. Let him sleep there 
to-morrow night alone. Let none other be in the house, 
for it is to the priest alone that I can confide my trou- 
bles. Urge also my dutiful nephew to pay large sums 
of money to the priest so that he may not fail to come 
to me in my sore and troubled hour." ' 

"Well, o' course they all thought it very wonderful, 
and, provided with more money by my friend, the priest 
went off to sleep the night with the cofiin. Well, I had 
pretended to be tired that night and had retired to my 
sleepin'-room early, so they thought, for we werespendin' 
that night ^s^ith the friends of my friend. But no sooner 
had I fastened the entrance to my room than I had got 
out of the window^ which looked out upon the city 
wall, and climbin' along the parapet I safely reached 
the ground and set off at a good run to the empty house, 
gettin' there well before the priest. Now" I had told 
the merchant to be sure and see the priest safe at the 
house himself, for I feared that fright might keep the 
rascal away. The merchant promised to do this, for 
I believe that by this time he was losin' confidence in 


the family confessor. As soon as I got into my old 
bedroom I opened the coffin, lifted out the corpse, 
strippin' him of his funeral clothes, which I donned. 
Then I hid the corpse in a dark corner of the room behind 
a screen and got into the great coffin. Now the lids 
are not screwed down in China, but merely allowed to 
rest upon the coffin, so I left a very little chink so that 
I should not have any fear of suffocation. Presently 
I hears the priest arrive, and my friend bids him good- 
night and leaves him. Well, the fellow possessed more 
courage than I had credited him with, 'cos he comes 
promptly into the room, counts out his fresh money on 
the top of the coffin itself, and then curls himself up 
alongside it upon the mattress. Just as soon as I heard 
him beginnin' to breathe heavy I pushed open the coffin 
lid, callin' upon him by name in most sepulchral tones. 
He woke up, o' course, and sits up on his side of the 
bed and looked at the coffin; and then he beheld me 
a-sittin' up inside the coffin a-lookin' at him, only, o' 
course, he didn't think it was me, but the dead uncle. 
Well, he was so frightened that I just had an easy walk 
over him. I jumped at him, I kicked him, I made him 
swear that he would return every penny of his false- 
gotten gains to the merchant, and that if the merchant 
refused he was to give it to the white stranger that 
sojourned there, and finally, after thrashing the stuffin' 
out of him, I popped him bodily into the coffin, jammed 
the corpse from behind the screen in on top of him, and 


over 'em both I closed the Hd. Then seein' as how he 
was unconscious through the drubbin' he had had, and 
the a^-ful fright, I left him and went home to bed at 
the house of the friends of my friend, gettin' in as I 
had got out — through the window. Well, next morn- 
ing the sly dog turned up and said that the gods had 
visited him in the night and that the coffin was to be 
buried twelve feet deep in the merchant's field, and that 
he was so overjoyed at having conversed so very pleas- 
antly w^ith the gods that he must insist on returning 
the gold to the merchant. This the good merchant, 
of course, refused to accept, so the priest was obhged, 
according as he had been commanded, to hand it to the 
white stranger wot sojourned with the merchant and 
who w^as your humble servant. Captain. That day I 
went back to Shanghai loaded with presents, not only 
from my friend, but from the friends of my friend, at 
whose house we had sojourned, and with every gold 
piece out of that sly dog's pocket, for although a sly 
dog he certainly was, he w^as also a cowardly dog, too, 
and didn't dare to go against the will of that terrible 
late lamented uncle of the bereaved one wot was now, 
and still is, I expect, lying twelve foot down in the field 
of my inestimable smug-faced merchant who was my 
friend. And that's the story of the funniest funeral 
I was ever at, and there ain't many wot ever seed a 
funnier one, I should say." 

"I should think not," said the captain, and filling 


their glasses once more they pledged each other, and 
the captain left the sexton to his hammering, and walked 
out over the Marsh. He had taken good stock of that 
coffin shop while Mr. Mipps had been chatting, and 
he was putting two and two together, and the result 
was four black marks against the sexton, for he knew 
him to be out of his own mouth an adventurer, and, 
when it came to the push, an unscrupulous one. Also 
he had confessed to having had dealings with buccaneers, 
and the captain was quick enough to see that he must 
have been hand in glove with the ringleaders, probably 
a ringleader himself, a man of the stamp of England and 
Clegg. Then he had counted no less than thirteen 
coffins — finished coffins with closed lids — in the shop, 
and he knew that there were only two bodies awaiting 
burial in the place — the doctor, Sennacherib Pepper, 
and the sailor killed at the vicarage. Therefore, what 
were the others for.^^ That they were misfits was out 
of the question, for Mipps was too shrewd a man to 
make eleven misfits; besides, he would have broken 
them up for fresh material. No, those eleven coffins 
were destined for other things besides corpses. And 
the fourth black mark against the sexton was his ter- 
rible hypocrisy and the ready wit that hid it. If any 
man was interested and deeply interested in the great 
smuggling scheme of Romney Marsh he felt that Mipps 
was the man, the man-tool of another's brain, another 
man mightier than Mipps — the squire probably, Doctor 


Syn possibly, though he had yet to bring the test to 
bear upon that curious and enigmatical vicar. But 
although as yet Doctor Syn was beyond his mental 
grasp, the Sexton Mipps was within it. He knew that 
he could make him victim, he was, in fact, sure of his 
guilt, and, knowing all he did of the man's character, 
he fell to wondering how it had been possible for him 
to fall under the spell of his fascination, for apart from 
Doctor Syn, whose personality had strongly appealed 
to him, he would rather have had Mipps for his friend 
than the rest of the village put together, for that odd 
little man had a rare way of making you like him, for 
over all his astute cunning hung a veil, an imperceptible 
something, that was nearly if not altogether lovable. 
But the hunter goes to no pains to rehearse the beauty 
of an animal he is stalking, and the captain knew that 
as soon as he was ready to strike, no amount of personal 
fascination possessed by any criminal that he was after 
would stay his hand w^hen the crucial moment came to 
destroy, and so he puzzled out his plans for cornering 
not only Mipps but every wrong 'un on the Marsh, and 
if the squire and Doctor Syn were in the bag — well, so 
much the better for the bag. 


THE devil's tiring HOUSE 

IF THE village was abed by ten o'clock, the coffin 
shop was very much alive at half an hour after 
midnight. Jerk, according to his instructions, 
found himself tapping upon the back window at that 
very hour and immediately found himself hauled into 
the house by Mr. Mipps himself. The sexton wore a 
voluminous riding cloak, heavily tippeted, and a black 
mask hid the upper part of his face, but Jerk could see 
by a glance at the fine sharp jaws that Mipps had laid 
aside his oiliness of manner, his sarcastic wit, and cring- 
ing self-complacency, and was allowing the real man 
that was in him to shine forth for once in a way prob- 
ably for his express advantage. Jerk now saw the 
iron qualities in the sexton that had struck the love 
spark upon the flinty bosom of Mrs. Waggetts, for as 
Mipps walked about among his men, from room to 
room, and in and out of the coffin shop, which was heav- 
ily shuttered, he carried a power upon his shoulders 
that would have done credit to Boney himself. And 
the company that Jerk found himself among — well, if 

the young hangman had suddenly found himself in the 



greenroom of Drury Lane Theatre in the midst of the 
great play actors, he could not have been more sur- 
prised, for therCj collected altogether, were the jack-o'- 
lanterns, the Marsh witches, and the demon riders, all 
preparing themselves as for a country fair. Grizzly 
old men, fishermen, and labourers, as the case might 
be, were arranging themselves in torn rags of women's 
garments, and with a few deft touches of Mipps's hands, 
lo I the fishermen and labourers were no more, and Marsh 
witches took their place. Similarly were the big fel- 
lows, hulking great men of Kent, metamorphosed into 
demons, enormous demons upon whose faces Mipps 
stuck heavy moustaches and hairy eyebrows of a most 
alarming nature. The grizzled ones likewise used horse- 
hair in long streamers from their conical hats, so that 
their appearance as witchfolk should be the more pro- 
nounced. There were also three little boys and two 
little girls dressed as jack-o'-lanterns. They were much 
younger than Jerk, but their rigouts filled him with 

*' Gentlemen," said Mipps, leading Jerry into this 
motley throng of eccentrics, " the new recruit. A young 
man wot has the eye of an eagle and the nerves of a 
steel blade. Those who quarrels with this young gent'll 
come off worst, if I'm not mistook, but them wot be his 
friends can bank on his good faith, for he's as staunch 
as a dog. Get your brandy flasks out, my devils, and 
let's drink to our new recruit. Jerry Jerk his name is, 


but accordin' to custom we drops all mention of private 
names in this organization; so up with your glasses whilst 
I rechristen him. We has power, we hasj we has devils 
amongst us of very great power, for we has lawyers, and 
farmers, and squires, and parsons wot be in league with 
us, but the greatest enemy we has is not the revenue 
swabs, nor the Admiralty uniforms, nor the bloody red- 
coats, nor the Prince Regent — God bless him for a vaga- 
bond and a *rip!' — no, I thinks you knows who we fears 
more than all that ruck? " 

"Jack Ketch! Jack Ketch!" whispered the horrible 

"Why, right you are, for Jack Ketch it be," retorted 
the sexton. "And here's a man wot's goin' sooner or 
later to be a Jack Ketch. He's got all the gifts of the 
hangman, he has — just that jolly way with him, he has 
• — and so you'll all be delighted to hear as how he's 
joined us, for with Jack Ketch as our friend we'll cheat 
the black cap on the gallows. Gentlemen, Jack Ketch. '^ 
Therefore they all drank to Jerk with much spirit, and 
Jerk, having been presented with a flask, pledged them 
in return and was introduced to all severally by the 
sexton. "This is Beelzebub, knocked over a good round 
dozen revenue swabs in your time, ain't you, Beelzebub.'^ 
And this is Belch the demon, the finest rider we ever 
had in our demon horse, and here's Satan, and this be 
Cat'seyes, the weirdest old witch you ever met with in 
a story book, I'll wager," and so on until such a vast 


collection of weird names had been rammed into Jerk's 
brains that he felt quite overpowered. However, when 
his own particular uniform was produced for him to don, 
his interests were requickened, and before Mipps had 
half finished attiring him in the strange rags Jerk would 
have sworn that it wasn't himself he saw in the old 
cracked mirror. 

"And now. Jack Ketch," said Mipps, "you only has 
to follow me into the cofiin shop to get your allowance 
of devil's face cream, then I thinks you'll feel real 
pleased with yourself." 

Into the weird coffin shop accordingly Jerry followed 
the sexton, and there was that black cauldron that he 
remembered so well. Now he would discover its use, 
Mipps stirred the contents and with a great brush began 
daubing Jerry's face. The curious smell made the 
youngster close his eyes and he felt the brush pass over 

"Now," said the sexton, "I blows out the candles and 
you shall see." Jerry opened his eyes as the sexton 
blew out the lights. "Bring in the mirror!" called the 
sexton to the other room. And then into the coffin 
shop came the other members of the company, and the 
mystery of the demon riders was explained, for in the 
dark room each diabolical face glistened like the moon, 
and when the cracked mirror had been held up before 
him he saw that he in his turn burned with the same hell- 
fire. "It's now time, Satan, to get the scarecrow in. 


and you, Beelzebub, go and paint the horses with what's 
left in that cauldron." 

Beelzebub obeyed the sexton promptly and, picking 
up the cauldron, wxnt to the back of the house, Satan 
accompanying him on his different errand — namely, 
that of bringing in the scarecrow, a thing that puzzled 
Jerry exceedingly. 

Mipps seemed to read his thoughts, for he approached 
and whispered: "Jack Ketch, you're a-wonderin' about 
the scarecrow now, ain't you.f^ Well, you've noticed 
him, I dare say, all dressed in black, at the bottom of 
my turnip field, ain't you? " 

"Yes," replied the new christened Jack Ketch; "I've 
noticed him as long as I can remember, and a very life- 
like scarecrow I considers him to be." 

"You're right," replied the sexton; "it's the best 
scarecrow I ever seed, for it's lifelike and no mistake, 
and if you keeps your eyes open you'll see him a bit 
more lifelike to-night — you wait." 

Satan soon reappeared bearing on his shoulder the 
dead lump of the scarecrow. Mipps indicated an old 
coffin that lay on the floor behind the counter of the 
shop and Satan at once pushed the scarecrow into it, 
and covered him with a lid. 

"He'll be there till the work's done," said Mipps, 
"for you see the great man himself rides out at nights 
as the scarecrow, and if you keep your eyes open you'll 
spot him. Now, Beelzebub," as that terror reappeared, 


"I take it that them horses is all ready; so bear in mind 
that my friend Jack Ketch is new to the game, and stick 
by him, and good luck to you devils, and may the mists 
guard the legion from all damned swabs!" And so the 
company filed out of the Devil's Tiring House after 
receiving this parting blessing at the hands of the sex- 

"Ain't you coming along, Hellspite?" said one of the 
ghastly crew to the sexton. 

"No, Pontius Pilate, I ain't," replied Mipps, "for 
me and the blunderbuss is a-goin' to watch that damned 
meddlesome captain." 

And so they left him there, Beelzebub leading Jerry 
by the hand out of the back door of Old Tree Cottage. 


THE scarecrow's LEGION 

THE company found their steeds in the turnip 
field at the back of the house, guarded so re- 
ligiously during the daytime by the old scare- 
crow that now reposed in the coffin — horses and ponies 
decked out with weird trappings and all tethered to a 
low fence that bordered one of the dykes. Jerry's 
horse, or, rather, the missing schoolmaster's horse, was 
brought to him by Beelzebub himself, whom Jerry very 
soon discovered to be a most entertaining and affable 
devil. It was fortunate indeed for Jerry that he was 
a good rider, and had a knowledge of the Marsh, for 
the cavalcade immediately set out across the fields, 
breaking into a high gallop, leaping dykes and sluices 
in such a reckless fashion that it was a marvel indeed 
to the boy that his old scragbones could keep pace with 
them; for Beelzebub rode at his side on a strong farm 
horse and kept urging him to a higher speed. It was 
nothing more nor less than a haphazard cross-country 
steeplechase, and the young adventurer was caught in 
the thrill of it. How exhilarating it was to ride through 

the night with those reckless fellows, but he would not 



altogether have relished it had Beelzebub not proved 
himself such an indefectible and capable pilot. 

"Heels in hard, Jack Ketch, when I tell you. Now ! " 
And hard went the heels in, and neck to neck went the 
horses straight at the broad dyke. "Yoikes!" And 
up they would go, crashing down again into the rush 
tops on the far side. And in this way they traversed 
the Marsh for six miles till they reached the highroad 
under Lympne Hill. There they drew rein at a spot 
where three roads met. At the bend of these roads 
Jerry could see a man on a tall gray horse. 

''That's the Scarecrow," whispered Beelzebub. 
** That's the great man hisself." 

One of the jack-o'-lanterns trotted off on his pony 
toward this figure, and Jerk saw him salute the Scare- 
crow, who handed him a paper. Saluting again, the 
youngster came back to Beelzebub, who took the paper 
from him and read it carefully by the light of the young 
jack's lantern. These boys carried lanterns fixed upon 
long poles, bearing them standard fashion as they rode. 

As he was reading, Beelzebub kept catching in his 
breath in an excited manner, and as he tucked the paper 
away in his belt he muttered: "May the Marsh be good 
to the Scarecrow to-night!" Jerry instinctively looked 
down the road to where the Scarecrow had been stand- 
ing, but horse and rider had disappeared. "Ah! Jack 
Ketch," said Beelzebub, "you are wondering wot's be- 
come of him, eh? You'd need an eye of quicksilver 


to keep sight of him. Here, there, and everywhere, and 
all at once he is, and astride the finest horse on Romney 
Marsh, a horse wot 'ud make the Prince Regent's 
mouth water, a horse more valuable to the Scarecrow 
than the Bank of England 'ud be." 

"But where's he gone to?" asked Jerry. 

"About his business and thine. Jack Ketch," an- 
swered Beelzebub. 

"I wish I'd seen him go," returned Jerry, "for I likes 
to see a good horse on the move. He went very silent, 
didn't he.?" 

"You'll never hear the noise of the Scarecrow's horse 
a-trottin', Jack Ketch, 'cos he's got pads on his hoofs. 
Ah! he's up to some tricks, is the Scarecrow, and, by 
hell! he'll need 'em to-night." 

"Why?" asked Jerk. 

"Because he's had word passed from Hellspite that 
the King's men are out, and Scarecrow thinks as how 
we may have to fight 'em." 

"And don't you want to do that?" 

"Why, you see it 'ud be awkward if any of us got 
wounded, as wounded men ain't easy things to hide 
in a village now, is they? and it 'ud be a difficult busi- 
ness to explain. Though, come to that. Scarecrow 
ain't never put out for an explanation o' nothing." 

As he was speaking, Beelzebub took Jerry's rein and 
started off again at the head of the cavalcade. Their 
way was now along the road the Scarecrow had gone, 


and when they had ridden for about half a mile they 
again sighted him, sitting his horse stockstill in the 
middle of the road, but this time he was not alone, for 
there were some half-dozen men leading packponies 
from the road into a large field. Toward this field 
Beelzebub led his cavalcade, and consequently they 
had to pass the grim figure called the Scarecrow. Jerry 
was ambitious to get a near view of this strange per- 
sonage, for he wanted if possible to pierce his disguise 
and see if he could recognize the features. But the 
nearer he got, the stranger the strange figure became. 
If it was any one that he knew, then it was only the 
scarecrow in Mipps's turnip field, for he was as like that 
as two peas are alike to each other. 

And the voice was not like any voice he could put an 
owner to, although there was something familiar in it. 
It was a hard, metallic voice, the voice of a commander. 

*'The King's men are watching the Mill House Farm, 
so, Beelzebub, you will circle the packponies as usual 
till we get half a mile from the house, then you will cut 
off and decoy them from the rear. If your attack is 
sudden and fierce they will have all they can do to de- 
fend themselves, and so that will afford the Mill House 
Farm men time to get their packponies in with the 
others. I will see that they get them away safely, and 
when you have shaken off the King's men pick us up 
again on the Romney road opposite Littlestone Beech. 


"Understood, Scarecrow, understood," replied Beel- 
zebub promptly. 

"And," went on the strange man, "you will stick by 
Jack Ketch as far as possible, and don't let him get 
into any needless danger. I want him to see all the 
fun that is possible, but I don't want any hurt to come 
to him. If I alter the plans, I'll pass the word. Under- 

"Understood, Scarecrow, understood," repeated Beel- 

"Then off you go!" 

And off they did go, the packponies, trotting under 
their heavy loads of wool, keeping along the edges of 
the field, and this with a very good purpose, for where 
the dykes run zigzag over Romney Marsh a thick mist 
arises some eight feet high, and even upon nights of 
full moon these mists hang about the dykes like heavy 
rolls of a spider's web, contrasting strangely with the 
rest of the country, which is all bright and easily seen. 
And now Jerk had to ride even faster than before, for 
the packponies, entirely hidden by the mist curtains, 
were circled and circled all the way by the galloping 
demons and jack-o'-lanterns, these last swinging their 
pole lights round their heads and uttering strange cries 
like those of the Marsh fowl, weird and ominous. This 
accounted, then, for all the ghost tales he had heard, 
for all the ghostly things those not in the secret had 
seen upon the Marsh, and a very clever scheme Jack 


thought it was, and a very good way of clearing the 
ground of the curious. For there is no power like super- 
stition, and nothing that spreads quicker or is more 
grossly exaggerated than tales of horror and fear. So 
on they rode in wild circles round and round the pack- 
ponies. Beelzebub was the actual leader. He it was 
who gave the orders, but the mysterious Scarecrow 
would dash out of the mist every now and again just 
to see that all was well with the legion, and then as 
quickly would he disappear, borne away like a ghost 
upon that spectral gray thoroughbred. 

Jerry of course knew the terror with which the pallid 
host could affect the unwary wayfarer — for had he not 
seen them himself on the night of Sennacherib's murder .^^ 
— but had he needed other proof he would have got it 
in the case of a small encampment of gypsies. They 
were not a recognized band of gypsies, but a wandering 
family, tramping from town to town, from village to 
village, getting what they could here and what they 
shouldn't there, to keep the poor life in their bodies. 
The gallopers came upon them in a ditch. They had 
lanterns there and a small fire around which three men 
and a young lad were sleeping. There was an old crone 
rocking herself to sleep on one side of the fire, and oppo- 
site, between two of the sleeping men, was a younger 
woman. Her garments were tattered and ragged to 
the last degree, and her shoulders and arms showed 
bare, for she had wrapped her shawl round the babe 


that was crying in her arms. The sudden appearance 
of the awful riders spread instant panic in this little 
circle. The old crone shrieked to her menfolk to 
awake, but before they could get to their feet the horses 
were upon them. Beelzebub, with daredevil precision, 
rode straight through the wood fire, his horse bellowing 
with fright as he scattered the crackling sticks. The 
young mother just avoided Jerry's horse as he came 
crashing through after Beelzebub, and the shriek of 
fear that she gave made Jerry turn heartsick as he 
reined in his mount. 

"An ill-famed baggage, I'll be sworn," said Beelze- 
bub . ' ' 'Twould have been a good thing had you ridden 
her down, and as for the brat, such devil spawn should 
be put out of their misery." 

"Now I should have thought devil spawn would have 
had rather a way with us." At which sally Beelzebub 
clapped Jerk on the back, and declared that he was a 
good Ketch, a remarkable good Ketch, and as the young 
recruit had all he could do saving his own neck every 
minute as they leaped backward and forward over the 
dyke, this unpleasant episode was forgotten, or, rather, 
slid back into his brain like the memory of a nightmare 
slides when we dream again. On they dashed, but 
stopping at numerous farms on the way, where they 
always found more packponies waiting to join the 
cavalcade. And the Scarecrow was always somewhere. 
As soon as any little hitch occurred — as one frequently 


did when the men placed the temporary bridge over the 
dykes for the transit of the pack-ponies — the Scare- 
crow would suddenly appear in their midst, giving 
sharp orders, whose prompt obedience meant an instant 
end to the difficulty, wdiatever it chanced to be. But 
it was the laying of this same temporary bridge that 
caused most of the delays, for it was a cumbersome thing 
to move about, and it had to be built strong enough to 
support the weight of the packponies. These ponies, 
too, caused considerable bother at some periods of the 
march, as their packs of wool would sometimes shake 
loose from the harness, and the cavalcade would have 
to stop while this was being remedied. But although 
the packponies stopped often, the demon riders were 
never allowed that luxury. Beelzebub untiringly 
flagged the horse round and round, now in large cir- 
cuits, now in small circles, always ringing in the pack- 
ponies from any prying eyes. It would have meant 
death to any one who got a view within that sweeping 
scythe of cavalry. And as murders on the Marsh were 
all put down to Marsh devils, except in the case of Sen- 
nacherib Pepper — for there was then a likely assassin 
known to be at large upon the Marsh to lay the deed to 
— and because of the dreaded superstition that had 
grown in the minds of Kentish folk, the smugglers were 
utterly callous as to what crimes they perpetrated, for 
they were as safe from the law as the most law-abiding 
citizen, for those who didn't credit the existence of 


murdering hobgoblins at least possessed sufficient fear 
of the smugglers themselves to leave them alone; for, 
after all, it was no business of any one but the revenue 
men, and so to the revenue men were they left, and in 
nearly every record it may be seen that the revenue men 
got the worst of it. 



MILL HOUSE FARM was the last on Beelze- 
bub's list, and in the dyke facing the house, 
but on the other side of the highroad 
crouched the King's men, commanded by the captain's 
bo'sun. They were as still as mice, for the captain had 
given strict orders to the bo'sun on that score, but they 
need not have put themselves to such pains, for owing to 
the extreme vigilance of Sexton Mipps the smugglers 
knew exactly where they were and what they were 
going to do. 

Now it is depressing to the most seasoned fighters to 
have to crouch for hours in a soaking muddy dyke wait- 
ting for an outnumbering enemy; for it was common 
knowledge that if smuggling was carried on upon the 
Marsh, it was well manipulated and relied for its secrecy 
upon the strength and numbers of its assistants. So 
the bo'sun had no easy task in keeping his men from 
grumbling; for whatever Captain Collyer's opinion 
may have been with regard to maintaining the law 
according to his duty, it was pretty evident that his 

men had no great relish for the task, and the bo'sun 



heartily wished that the captain had not left him re- 
sponsible, for his absence was having a poor effect upon 
the men, and the unfortunate bo'sun was greatly afraid 
that they would fail to put up a good fight when the 
time came. It is one thing to fight an enemy, but quite 
another to shoot down your own countrymen, and al- 
though every man jack of them was itching for the 
French war, they felt no enthusiasm for this suppres- 
sion of smuggling, for the whole of the countryside would 
have taken the side of the lawbreakers, and who knows 
how many of these same King's men had not them- 
selves done a very profitable trade with the illegal car- 
goes from France. 

These were the feelings that existed as the King's 
men lay in the dyke opposite Mill House Farm, listen- 
ing to the noise of ponies' hoofs in the yard, and waiting 
to fire upon any one who presented himself. 

But the order "Not to kill, but to fire low," also 
damped their spirits, for what chance would they have 
against desperate fellows keeping their necks out of the 
rope, who would not hesitate but would rather aim to kill .^ 

The bo'sun had great difficulty in preventing one old 
seadog who lay next him in the ditch from voicing his 
opinion of the proceedings in a loud bass voice, but 
what he did say he after all had the good grace to whis- 
per, though a whisper that was none too soft at that. 

"What the hell's the sense, Mr. Bo'sun, of sending 
good seamen like we be to die like dogs in this blamed 


ditch ? Ain't England got no use for seamen nowadays ? 
'Tain't the members of Parleyment wot'll serve her 
when it comes to fighting, though they does talk so very 

"They don't talk as much as you do," was the hushed 
retort of the bo'sun. 

"Look ye 'ere, Job Mallet," went on the seadog, 
"you've been shipmate o' mine fer longer than I well 
remembers, and you be in command here. Well, I 
ain't a-kickin' against your authority, mind you, but 
I'm older than you be, and I want to voice my opinion 
to you, which is also the opinion of every mother's son 
in this damned ditch. Why don't we clear out of this 
and be done with the folly .^^ We looks to you, Job 
Mallet, I say we looks to you as our bo'sun, and a very 
good bo'sun you be, we looks to you, we does, to save 
us bein' made fools of. We wants to fight the Frenchies 
and not our own fellows. The Parleyment's a-makin' 
a great mistake puttin' down the smugglers. If they 
only talked nice to 'em they'd find a regiment or two 
o' smugglers very handy to fight them ugly Frenchies. 
For my own part I don't see why the Parleyment don't 
put down other professions for a bit and leave the smug- 
glers alone. Why not give lawyers a turn, eh? They 
could do with a bit o' hexposin'! Dirty swabs! And 
so could the doctors wot sell coloured water for doses. 
Bah! dirty, dishonest fellows! But, oh, no! It's al- 
ways the poor smugglers who be really hard-working 


fellows; and very good fighters they be, too, as we'll soon 
be called upon to see." 

All this time Job Mallet tried to silence him, but 
threats, persuasions, and arguments were all alike use- 

"Old Collywobbles thinks the same as wot we does." 

"I'll have you to remember," whispered the bo'sun 
stiffly, "that I bein' in command in this 'ere ditch don't 
know as to who you be alludin' when you say Colly- 
wobbles. I don't know no one of that name." 

"Oh, ain't you a stickler to duty.^^" chuckled the 
seadog. "Still I respec's you fer it, though p'raps 
you'll permit me to remind you as how it was you in the 
fo'csle of the Resistance as gave the respected Captain 
Howard Collyer, R. N., the pleasant pet name of Colly- 
wobbles. Though p'raps that's slipped your memory 
for the moment." 

"It has," answered the bo'sun. 

"Very well, then, but you can take it from me as 
how it was, so there, and a very clever name it be, too ; 
but there, you always was one of the clever ones. Job 

"I wish I were clever enough to make your fat mouth 
shut, I do," muttered the bo'sun. 

"Now, then, Job Mallet, don't you begin getting to 
personalities. But there, now, I don't want to quarrel 
with you. You've always had my greatest respec's, 
you has, and as we'll probably be stiff 'uns in a few 


minutes, we won't quarrel, old pal. But I give you 
my word that I don't like being shot down like a rabbit, 
and I'm sorry as how it's you as is in command, 'cos if 
it was any one else I declares I'd get up now and walk 
home to bed." 

"If Captain Collyer was here, you know you'd do 
nothing of the sort." 

"Why, ain't he here.'^ That's wot I wants to know. 
Strike me dead! it's easy enough to send out poor old 
seadogs to be shot like bunny rabbits. I could do 
that. There ain't no pluck in that, as far as I can see, 
though p'raps I be wrong, and if I be wrong, well, I'll 
own up to it, for I don't care bein' put in the wrong of 
it when I is in the wrong of it." 

"You ain't a-settin' a very good example to the young 
men, I'm thinkin'," said Job Mallet. "You, the oldest 
seaman here, and a-grumblin' and a-gossipin' like an 
old housewife. You ought to think shame on yourself, 
old friend." 

"Oh, well," growled the other, "I won't utter another 
blarsted word, I won't. But if you does want to know 
my opinion in these 'ere proceedin's, it's — hell ! " 

"I don't say as how I don't agree with you," returned 
Job Mallet, "but there it is and we've got to make the 
best of it. It won't do no good a-grumblin'. We'll 
make the best of a bad job, and I hopes as I for one will 
be able to do my duty, 'cos I don't relish it no more 
than you do." 


"Well, strike me blind, dumb, and deaf!" thundered 
the seadog in a voice of emotion as he clapped Job 
Mallet on the back, "if I've been a snivellin' powder 
monkey I ought to be downright ashamed of myself, 
and seein' as how I be the oldest seaman here, instead 
— well, I'm more than damned downright ashamed. Job 
Mallet, thank you ! You set a good example to us all, 
Mister Bo'sun, and I'll stand by you for one. Damn 
the smugglers, and wait till I get at 'em, that's all!" 

"Thank yer," said the bo'sun, "but you'll greatly 
oblige me by keeping quiet, 'cos here be the smugglers^ 
if I ain't mistook." 

Indeed at that instant along the road came the sound 
of the sharp, quick steps of the packponies. At pres- 
ent they were hidden in the mist which floated thickly 
about that part of the Marsh, but they could not only 
hear the ponies but a sound of a voice singing as well. 
This voice was raised in a wailing monotone and the 
words were repeated over and over again. They were 
intended for the ears of the wretched sailors who were 
waiting in the ditch for the attack: 

"Listen, oh, you good King's men who are waiting 
to shoot us from the damp ditch. We have got your 
kind captain here, a blunderbuss a-looking at the back 
of his head. If you fire on us, good King's men, then 
the blunderbuss will fire at the good captain, and then : 

"*A11 the King's horses and all the King's men 
Could not put captain together again.'" 


Even if the words were not sufficient to explain the 
situation to the sailors, the first figures of the cavalcade 
were all sufficient. A donkey led by two jack-o'-lanterns 
on foot jolted out of the fog. Upon its back was a man 
bound and gagged, supported on either side by two 
devil-men. That the gagged wretch was the captain 
needed no words to tell, for his uniform showed by the 
lantern's light, and there right behind him, sure enough, 
was the blunderbuss in question, pointed by a snuffy little 
devil called by his colleagues Hellspite, who sat hunched 
up on a shoddy little pony. This little group h alted at a 
convenient distance from the sailors in the ditch, and 
Hellspite again rehearsed his little speech, ending up 

"*A11 the King's horses and all the King's men 
Could not put captain together again.' " 

Now the poor bo'sun in command had all his life 
grown so used to taking other people's orders that he 
didn't know what to do for the best. He liked the cap- 
tain and didn't want to see him killed, though he knew 
what he must be suffering in his ridiculous position. 
He knew that had the captain but got the use of his 
speech he would have shouted, "Fire! and be damned 
to 'em!" But then the captain had not got the use of 
speech. The Scarecrow and Hellspite knew enough 
of the man to see to that, and as they had no great 
desire to be fired at, they had seen that the gags were 


efficient. So it was, after all, small wonder that the old 
grumbling seadog next to him, who possessed a rollick- 
ing vein of humour, laughed until he rolled back into 
the mud, for the sight was enough to make the pro- 
verbial cat laugh, much less a humorous old tar, and 
the rest of the men were divided into two classes, some 
following the example of the bo'sun and being struck 
stiff with amazement and powerless wrath, others join- 
ing the laughing tar in the muddy ditch and guffawing 
over the ridiculous situation of their captain, for he was 
not the build of man to sit an ass with any dignity, not 
being at all akin to a Levantine Jew, but very absurd 
in his naval uniform, with the cocked hat literally cocked 
right down over his nose. It was this sudden surprise 
that made the sailors utterly unprepared for what fol- 
lowed. A large party of horse swept out of the mist 
behind them, and when they turned to see what fresh 
thing was amiss there was a gallant line of terrible 
cavalry pulling up on their haunches a few yards in 
their rear. Thus they were cut off on both sides: at 
their back the devils with flaming faces, on horses of 
alarming proportions, and in front, their captain, wait- 
ing for them to shoot, to meet his own death by the 
little demon's blunderbuss: 

" * If you fire, you good King's men, 
Then the devil shall blarst your captain.'** 

*'And you as well, you good King's men!" shrieked 


and howled the terrible demons at the back, who covered 
with pistols or blunderbuss every Jack Tar in the ditch. 
Then another rider appeared on the scene. He was 
tall, thin, and of ungainly countenance, and he rode a 
light gray thoroughbred. He was the Scarecrow, and 
all the devils hailed him by that name as he appeared. 
Behind him came the packponies, some sixty or seventy 
in all, and on each pony was a wool pack that would 
have meant a human neck to the King's hangman if 
only Colly er were free to work his will. The Scarecrow 
drew up in the road and watched the great procession 
of ponies pass along toward the coast. When they had 
all but passed he gave a signal, and the doors of Mill 
House barn were opened and ten more heavily laden 
ponies trotted out and joined the snake of illegal com- 
merce that was wriggling away to the sea. Then like 
some field-marshal upon the field of battle did the Scare- 
crow slow^ly ride over a small bridge and then along 
the front of his demon cavalry. Jerry Jerk heard him 
give a short order to Beelzebub as he passed, and then 
saw him gallop away after the packponies. And then 
came the ordeal for the King's men, for they were kept 
in that uncomfortable position for a full two hours, or 
maybe even longer. Folly to move, folly to fight, there 
they had to stop — a foolish-looking group of fighting 
men, if you like, but more foolish had they attempted 
resistance, for they were outnumbered in men, in arms, 
and in wits. Once, indeed, did the bo'sun nearly lose his 


head, and that was when Hellspite lowered his blunder- 
buss and produced a clay pipe which he lit. The bo'sun 
saw a chance, spat in his hand, grasped his cutlass, and 
clambered from the dyke. But instantaneously came 
the ominous noise of cocking pistols, and the old sea- 
dog grabbed the bo'sun's leg and pulled him back swear- 
ing into the mud. Hellspite chuckled and smoked his 
pipe, the horsemen covered every man in the ditch 
with cocked weapons, and so another hour passed 
over the curious group. Suddenly from over the Marsh 
came the cry of a curlew, weird and repeated seven 
times. Hellspite put up his pipe and muttered an order 
to the two devils by the donkey, and then he addressed 
the sailors: 

"Now, good sailors, we will trouble you for your 
arms. Pass them up to good Job Mallet and he shall 
stretch his legs and lay them at my feet." 

But again Job Mallet lost his head. He arose in the 
ditch and sang out bravely: "You and the rest of you 
are damned cowards in silencing the mouth of our cap- 
tain. Had he his voice you know what he'd say — 
'Shoot and be damned to you!' and well you know it. 
Why don't you meet us in fair fight, you damned cow- 
ards, instead of using such devil's tricks .f^" 

" 'Cos we ain't so bloody-minded as the good King's 
bo'sun," answered Hellspite in a piping voice, which 
drew forth a great laugh from the devils. 

One of the seamen, considering that all eyes were now 


upon the bo'sun, leaped from the ditch and made a rush 
for Hellspite with his naked cutlass. Five or six pistols 
cracked behind him and over he fell, face downward in 
the road. Every shot had taken effect : he was dead. 

*' Oh, do keep your little heads, you silly King's men ! '* 
wailed Hellspite, *'for look how we've spoiled that nice 
little man. He's no use now to fight the French, no 
use at all. Oh, what a pity, w^hat a pity, what a pity ! " 

Again came the cry of the curlew, seven times. 

*'Now, then, those weapons!" ordered Hellspite 
sharply, "and if they don't come along quick we'll put 
this captain out of service along with his man there." 

There was nothing for it but to obey. They were 
in the demons' power. The sailors had found that the 
smugglers were good shots and that they meant busi- 
ness. No, there was nothing for it but to hand over 
their arms to the bo'sun, who with bad grace laid them 
upon the roadway, whence they were picked up by the 
jack-o'-lanterns, who bore them into the barn. 

"Now, then, my fine fellows," said Hellspite, "we'll 
plump this 'ere captain on the road. You will pick 
him up if you want him and take him home to bed, for 
the dawn ain't far off, and as the wool packs are safe 
and away, we'll bid you good repose." 

The captain was accordingly lifted from the donkey 
and laid upon the road. The sailors were filed up 
around him, and conducted ingloriously back to the 
vicarage barn. Three devils, having been told off for 


the purpose, bore away the body of the dead seaman, 
so that before the dawn lit up the Marsh there was no 
sign of smugglers anywhere, and Jerry Jerk, after dis- 
robing with the others at the coffin shop, was packed 
off home to bed by Beelzebub, where, without disturb- 
ing his grandparents, he fell immediately to sleep, and 
dreamed his whole adventure over again. 

Just as the dawn was breaking Mipps was returning 
from the vicarage barn, where he had deposited a bundle 
of weapons outside the door, when he saw a yellow-faced 
man creeping along the field by the churchyard wall. 
As he watched the figure disappear into a deep dyke he 
muttered: "I wonder if that there thing is real or 
unreal? I wonder if he did get off that reef in his body? 
If he did, what the blarsted hell's he findin' to live upon? 
and if he ain't — well, God help one of us in this 'ere 
place!" And he scurried back to the coffin shop like a 
sneaking rat. 



IT WAS something of a difficult position which Cap- 
tain Collyer was called upon to face. That he had 
cut a ridiculous figure no one was more conscious 
than himself, and being made absurd before his own 
men made the situation doubly difficult. But Captain 
Collyer preserved his dignity in a most meritorious 

When the smugglers had gone and the bo'sun had 
freed him from his bonds, he stood up in the barn and 
addressed the sailors : "My men," he began, "we have 
been badly beaten. Without a blow you were forced 
to lay down your arms, which I well know must have 
been a hard thing for you to do. After I had given the 
bo'sun orders of the night's plan I went out to verify 
certain suspicions that I had formed against certain 
folk upon the Marsh. I was congratulating myself on 
how well I was succeeding, when I found myself a help- 
less prisoner in the wretches' hands. I had walked 
blindly into a very clever trap. As you saw for your- 
selves, my captors made such a complete job of me that 
I was helpless to speak to you or give you any sign. 



Under the circumstances, I must thank the bo'sun for 
his gallant behaviour. I appreciate what he did, for he 
saved my life, although perhaps I could almost find it 
in my heart that he had acted otherwise, for a good 
seaman's death is now on my hands — brave Will Ru- 
drum, who was shot dead on the road. I also cannot 
find it in my heart to reprimand Joe Dickinson for his 
fit of laughter, because nobody saw the humour and 
disgrace of my position as much as I did myself. But 
when a man's life is forfeited all humour slips away, and 
so it has for me and for you, I'm sure, who were Will 
Rudrum's comrades at arms. I am very thankful that 
my life has been spared for this one purpose — namely, 
of avenging poor Rudrum's death — and if any one 
should and can avenge him, I hold myself to be that 
man. For this purpose I intend to take you all into 
my confidence. Having failed dismally so far, I do not 
wish to fail again; therefore, listen. In the first place, 
we are not a strong enough body to cope with these 
Marshmen. I shall therefore demand a strong body of 
reinforcements. There are redcoats at Dover and there 
are seamen at Rye. To both of these towns shall I send 
couriers. Also at Rye there is a remarkable old man, a 
wise man, an attorney-at-law. He will meet me this 
very day at the Ship Inn, and will undertake all the 
legal points with regard to the arrests which I shall 
make as soon as I have gathered up a few more facts. 
Will Rudrum was the first to fall in a good cause, for this 


comer of England is a very hotbed of enemies to the 
government. Bo'sun, you will serve out an extra allow- 
ance of rum at once, for we must drink together." 

The rum was served and the captain raised his pan- 

"To the swift avenging of poor Will Rudrum, to the 
quick regaining of our dignity, and to the speedy hang- 
ing of his Majesty's foes!" 

The men drank, and then Joe Dickinson shouted: 
''And to our captain, God bless him, and blast them as 
does him dirty tricks!" 

This toast was drunk greedily, and then the bo'sun 
led three cheers — three cheers which went echoing out 
of the old barn across the Marsh with a strength that 
made many a smuggler turn in his bed uneasily. 

When they opened the barn door at daybreak to let 
the captain go forth, they found there a neat pile of 
weapons: his Majesty's pistols and his Majesty's cut- 
lasses were all returned. 

"Aye, but there's some honour amongst thieves, 
sir!" exclaimed the bo'sun. 

"Devil a bit of it!" said the captain. "The rascals 
know that we can soon get substitutes, and they've no 
wish to have such telltale things discovered on their 
premises. There's more good sense than honour in it, 
I'm thinking, Job Mallet." 

At ten o'clock that morning a coach rolled up to the 
door of the Ship Inn and out stepped Antony Whyllie, 


Esq., attorney-at-law from Rye, a man of sixty-five 
years, but upright and alert as any young man. He was 
attired in a bottle-green coat, black satin breeches, silk 
stockings, silver-buckled shoes, and faultless linen. His 
gray wig, tied concisely with a black ribbon, completed 
a true picture of the law : a man to desire for one's de- 
fence, a man to dread for one's accusation. 

The captain received him at the door of the inn and 
conducted him to the privacy of his own bedchamber. 

There he unburdened his mind to the lawyer, stating 
all his suspicions and clearly showing how he had ar- 
rived at them. By the end of the morning they thor- 
oughly understood each other, the lawyer returning 
by coach to Rye with orders to the governor of the 
castle to prepare accommodation for a large number of 
prisoners and to see to it that there were chains enough 
to hang 'em to. But, strange to relate, that lawyer in 
bottle green never reached the little town of Rye, for 
his coach stopped at a certain farmhouse beyond Rom- 
ney. Here he alighted to make room for another lawyer, 
a real lawyer, a man of sixty-five, who had left Rye that 
Very morning to consult with a certain Captain Collyer 
residing at the Ship Inn, Dymchurch. This lawyer 
had, needless to say, never arrived at Dymchurch. For 
at a lonely spot on the road outside Romney a strong 
body of men had awaited the arrival of his coach. While 
two or three of them removed the driver from his box 
to the farmhouse, where they speedily made him drunk, 


two or three others had entered the coach, securely 
gagged and blindfolded the occupant, and conveyed 
him also to the house, the coach immediately proceed- 
ing to Dymchurch with another coachman and another 
lawyer, a man in a bottle-green coat. 

The blindfolded lawyer had been scared out of all 
knowledge, especially by the sound of the voice of a 
certain man known as the Scarecrow. This terrible 
ruffian had told the lawyer that if on returning to Rye 
he breathed a word of what had happened they would 
most certainly catch him again and do away with him, 
adding that there was no place more convenient than 
Romney Marsh for the hiding of a body. So with the 
exception of telling his awful experience to his wife, 
whom he feared nearly as greatly as he feared the Scare- 
crow, Antony \Miyllie, attorney-at-law, held his tongue, 
being only thankful that the rascals had let him off so 
easily. The coachman, who was so muddled with 
drink and wath falling off his box at least a dozen times 
on the way back, never even remembered what had 
happened or to whose kind offices he was indebted for 
the privilege of becoming so gloriously drunk. So the 
affair passed unheeded by the public, and the gentleman 
in bottle green, having changed his clothes, might that 
very afternoon have been seen going toward the church 
of Dymchurch. Down into the crypt he went, and 
there, at a dirty table lighted by a candle set in a bot- 
tle's neck, he aided two other men to work out certain 


accounts that were spread before them in a book marked 
''Parish Register of Deaths." But there were no deaths 
registered in that book. It was full of figures account- 
ing for cargoes of wool, full of receipts for -coffins loaded 
with spirits. 

Sexton Mipps and the gentleman who had worn the 
bottle-green coat then unlocked an old chest and took 
out certain money bags which they emptied on the 
table. The third gentleman, whom they addressed 
as the Scarecrow, helped them to sort the coin, French 
in one pile, English in another, and then referring to a 
list of names in the register, the three managers of the 
secret bank proportioned out their servants' wages. 
When this was accomplished the gentleman who had 
worn the bottle-green coat presented his little account, 
which was promptly paid in golden guineas, and he left 
them, saying that he was very sorry that it was the last 
time that he would draw so many golden Georges from 
the bank. 

"Yes, the bank closes accounts to-day," said the 
Scarecrow, striking his name off the list, "though per- 
haps some day we shall open it again. Who knows? " 

"Let's hope so," said the other, shaking hands with 
the Scarecrow and the sexton, "and let's hope we meet 
again. Good-bye." And he was gone, IViipps locking 
the door behind him. 

" It's all right to a penny," said the Scarecrow. 

"Hooray! I calls it," chuckled Sexton Mipps, rub- 


bing his hands together. "I'll get this little lot of 
coinage nailed up in a coflfin and sent to Calais, and old 
What's-his-name wot's just gone up the stairs has ar- 
ranged with the Calais people to get it transferred to the 
Bank of Lyons, so you can get at it yourself from Mar- 
seilles, can't you?" 

"Yes, we're all square now. Everything shipshape. 
Mother Waggetts I've settled with, and Imogene gets 
the iron-bound casket. I've seen to it all. But it's 
time I was off. I've a certain gentleman to see before 

" Who's that.? " asked Mipps. 

"The squire," replied the Scarecrow, laughing as he 
tied up the money bags. 

"And I have a gentleman to visit, too," said Mipps. 

"Who's that.f^" asked the Scarecrow. 

"Parson Syn, Doctor Syn, the worthy vicar," replied 
Mipps, winking, at which the Scarecrow laughed and 
went out of the crypt. 

Mipps, after locking up the money in the chest, fol- 
lowed leisurely, and as he crossed the churchyard he 
saw Doctor Syn ringing the front door bell of the Court 

"Well," murmured Mipps to himself, "I've met one 
or two of 'em in my time, but he's a blinkin' marvel." 



DO YOU mean to say that you're going to 
leave Dymchurch?" 
The squire was positively angry, a thing he 
had never been with Doctor Syn in all the years that he 
had known him. "You are undoubtedly pulling my 
leg — that's what you're doing. God bless my soul, sir, 
there's precious few fellows can do that, and precious 
few that dare try; but that's what you're doing, isn't 

"I'm afraid not. Sir Antony. My dear squire, my 
good friend, I am afraid that for once in my life I am 
most dreadfully in earnest." 

"But what don't you like about the place? Is it 
something I've done? Do you want your stipend 
raised? Damme, I'll treble the blessed thing, if it's 
that. Oh, it's that rascally son of mine that's been 
putting you out. It's that Denis scamp, who never 
took to his books and never will. But I'll make him. 
I'll take my riding whip to the young whelp if he causes 
you pain. It is he! He's at the bottom of it. My 
soul and body, I'll give the young puppy a shaking up. 



He doesn't know a good tutor when he sees one. The 
impertinent young popinjay! Doesn't appreciate any- 
thing. No! God bless my soul, why he's no more 
respect for me than a five-barred gate. He's always 
doing something to jar me. Why, do you know, that 
the cool-faced young malefactor announced the other 
day in the most insolent manner that he was going to 
marry a barmaid.^ Yes, I assure you he did. He an- 
nounced to me, sir, in the most condescending tones, as 
if he were conferring an inestimable favour upon my 
head, that he thought I ran a very good chance of hav- 
ing that girl Imogene for my daughter-in-law. You 
know Imogene, that serves and waits and does innu- 
merable dirty jobs at the Ship Inn; and when I expostu- 
lated in fatherly tones, why, bless me, if the young 
spitfire didn't fly into a passion, crying out that it was 
high time one of the Cobtrees introduced some good 
looks into the family. Said that to me, mind you — his 
natural father that brought him into the world. I told 
him that, used those very words, and what does he do 
but begin to bow and scrape and praise and thank me 
for bringing him into the world at the same period as 
that black-haired bargirl, just as if his mother and I had 
timed the thing to a nicety! Why, when I come to 
think of it, she's the daughter of a common pirate, that 
rascally, scoundrelly Clegg, who was hanged at Rye. 
Isn't she now.^ And she's to be my daughter-in-law! 
Now, Doctor Syn, in the name of Romney Marsh, what 


the devil — I say, what the devil would you do if you 
had a son like that to deal with? " 

The squire absolutely had to stop for breath, and 
Doctor Syn, who had been vainly trying to get a word 
in edgewise, replied: "Well, sir, I should candidly 
confess that my son was a lucky dog if he succeeded in 
getting her, and which, I should very much doubt. In 
fact, were I in your place, I should go so far as to bet my 
wig that he would never win the girl. I'm very fond of 
Denis, devoted to him in fact, but I'm afraid he'll have 
a great difficulty in marrying Imogene." 

" I should damn well bet my eyes he will, sir ! I need 
none to tell me that. Difficulty in marrying her.? Aye, 
that he will. My son will marry position, sir — money, 
sir — and if beauty comes along of it, well, then, beauty, 
sir, and all the better for my son, sir." 

*'And provided of course that the lady is willing," 
put in the vicar. 

" Willing .f^ What minx wouldn't be only too damned 
willing to marry my son — old Cobtree's son; and not 
so old either, sir, eh.^^ Why, any woman would jump 
at the chance! And as for a bargirl, the daughter 
of a dirty pirate hanged in that silly conceited little 
town of Rye, why, pooh-pooh, my dear Doctor ! Laugh- 

"Well, I think differently in this case. Squire," said 
the Doctor. "I should call Denis a lucky dog. I 
might even stretch a point and, at the risk of being un- 


frocked, say a damned lucky dog if he succeeded in 
marrying that girl Imogene." 

"What?" cried the squire. 

"Of course," said the Doctor, "you mustn't go en- 
tirely by what I say, because I hold myself very seri- 
ously gifted in the judging of attractive women." 

"And so do I, sir. I know she's attractive. A 
damned fine, upstanding young woman, and if she were 
even a county pauper I might stretch a point and ac- 
cept her, but beauty comes last on my list." 

"But Imogene possesses all the other necessaries re- 
quired. Rich she is, and very rich, though she doesn't 
know it, and although her mother was but a dancer in a 
Raratonga gambling saloon, she was descended direct 
from an Incan princess, and as you said * pooh-pooh' to 
me, sir, why, I'll say 'pooh' back, sir: 'pooh' to your 
Kentish ladies of quality, for when Imogene comes into 
her own, why, damme, she could chuck their fortunes 
on to every horse in the village steeplechase." 

"Is she so very wealthy — that girl at the Ship Inn? 
Well, perhaps I am wrong in saying that the match is 
so very uneven. Perhaps I am." 

"Yes," went on the vicar, "there is just the possibil- 
ity that it might be brought to a successful issue, though 
if you'll excuse my saying so, you are so very tactless 
at times, Squire." 

"What do you mean?" cried the squire hotly. "I 
am none too sure that I should care for my son to marry 


a bargirl, though she were the daughter of Croesus him- 

"My dear Squire, cahn yourself, I beg. As a bar- 
maid I admit Imogene is below Denis as regards posi- 
tion, but as an Incan princess, why, my dear friend, she 
is as far superior to the Cobtrees of the Court House 
as the reigning house of England. Why, do you 
know anything — but of course you do — of the pride, 
the magnificence, the omnipotent splendour possessed 
by the Incan kings .^^ Why, the Palace of White- 
hall would compare most unfavourably with their scul- 

"No.^ Really? "said the squire. 

**And it's for the wealth and fortunes of Imogene 
that I must leave you," went on the cleric — "that is, 
leave you for a time, you understand.^ For although 
I shall bestow upon her certain things of value that I 
hold as her guardian, the bulk of her fortune has been 
lying idle, but now that she is growing into womanhood, 
it is high time I fulfilled my duties and lifted her money 
for her." 

"Then she's your adopted child, is she.^" said the 
squire, pushing his wig back and scratching his head. 

"Well, I suppose that's how it stands in a sense," 
replied the Doctor. "When that rascal Clegg died he 
actually paid me a good sum of money to see that his 
daughter was provided for, and of course I've kept that 
money for her till she came to years of discretion. He 


also told me where England's treasure was buried, and 
that's what I'm off to get." 

"England's treasure? What's that?" asked the 
amazed squire. 

"Clegg was a partner of England, the notorious pi- 
rate. It is said that he killed England in a quarrel, 
though nothing was proved of it. Anyhow, Clegg was 
the only man who knew of the hiding-place, and at his 
death he imparted the secret to me, after I had given 
solemn oath upon the Bible to keep it to myself." 

"God bless my soul!" said the squire, leaping to his 
feet; "and do you mean to say that you've kept the 
secret all this time and not fitted out a ship and gone to 
lift it? Why, there may be millions there ! " 

" There are," said Doctor Syn. " I'm certain of that. 
That's why I've been at pains to keep the whole matter 
to myself, not even telling the girl, for it will want care- 
ful handling. Once let any one know that I am off to 
lift Clegg's treasure-chests, and all the dogs in Christen- 
dom will be nosing on my trail. Clegg had the same 
fear of this secret being stolen and so committed the 
exact lie of the island to my memory, and to no arti- 
ficial map, but he did it so uncommon well that I can 
see point, bays, lagoons, soundings, and tracks just as 
if I had piloted ships there all my life." 

"Then all this pious talk of wanting to go out as a 
mission preacher to the smelly blacks is simply balder- 
dash, and you haven't had a ridiculous 'call' at all?" 


** Merely a cloak to hide my real designs.'* 

"Good Lord deliver us!" said the squire, pushing his 
wig clean off and allowing it to lie unheeded on the floor. 

Just then there entered a servant who announced to 
the squire that the girl from the Ship Inn was outside 
with a note which she desired to give to the squire. 

*' Ask her to be so kind as to step in," said the squire, 
with a touch of deference and awakened interest. 

Imogene accordingly came into the room. Per- 
fectly at ease she stood there, until with almost regal 
grace she accepted the chair that the squire brought for- 
ward. Yes, he thought the vicar was right. Her 
clothes were rough indeed, but her manner would have 
sat well on an empress. 

'*You have brought a note for me, I think — Imo- 
gene?'' said the squire at last. He was ridiculously 
uncertain whether to call her Imogene as usual, or 
Madame; in fact in his confusion he was as near as not 
saying Mistress Cobtree, which would have been awful. 
Imogene held out a small sealed packet, and looked at 
the fire, and so taken up was the squire with looking at 
her and thinking of the Incan millions that, if Doctor 
Syn had not shuffled his foot, he would have forgotten 
to open the letter at all. But the moment he had, the 
girl, the Incan millions, his anger against his son, the 
mission *call ' of the Doctor, everything was forgotten, 
for he crunched the letter in his hand, threw his head 
back, and looking at the ceiling with the most appalled 


expression on his face, cried out: *'If there's a God in 
heaven, come down quick and wring this captain's 

"What is it ? " cried the vicar. 

"Read it out!" yelled the squire, flinging the crum- 
pled paper ball upon the table. "If you love me, read 
it out and tell me what to do." 

Doctor Syn recovered the note, which had bounced 
from the table to the floor, and when he had unravelled 
it and smoothed it straight and flat, he read : 

"Ship Inn. 
"To Sir Antony Cobtree of the Court House, Leveller of Marsh 

Scott s. 
"Sir: I beg to inform you on behalf of the British Admi- 
ralty that the person of Mister Rash, Dymchurch school- 
master, has disappeared. I feel sure that there is somebody 
in power who is organizing Romney Marsh for his own ends. 
Somebody is running wool to France, and from the clever 
organization of these runs, I know that some cultured brain is 
directing affairs. Your attitude of utter indifference forces 
me to suspect you. As Leveller of the Marsh Scotts you 
are in a safe place to control such a scheme, and so I have 
taken a strong measure in attaching the person of your son. 
Mister Denis Cobtree. If the body of that unfortunate 
schoolmaster, dead or alive, is not produced before me within 
the next twenty-four hours, I shall take steps to force your 

[Signed] "Captain Howard Collyer, 

"Coast Agent and Commissioner. 
"P.S. There is a press gang at work in Rye who will ship 
your son to sea in twenty -four hours." 


"Nowwhatamltodo? Press gang at Rye ! Twenty- 
four hours! What have I got to do with that flabby- 
faced schoolmaster? Where's he got to? How the 
devil should I know? P'raps he thinks that I have 
danced him off somewhere. Never heard of such a 
thing in my life. But what am I to do? That's what 
I want to know! What am I to do? My poor Denis! 
Why, I wouldn't have quarrelled with him if I'd known. 
Why has that schoolmaster disappeared? By what in- 
fernal right, I say, has that insignificant anaemic louse 

Doctor Syn then briefly related the bo'sun's story of 
Rash's disappearance, which the squire listened to im- 

"Well, sir," the latter exclaimed at the conclusion, 
**as far as that schoolmaster's concerned, I don't mind 
if he's roasting on Lucifer's spit, for I dislike the man, 
but when his disappearance concerns the safety of my 
son, my God! he's got to put in an appearance and be 
quick about it. For I'll have him routed out of his 
infernal hiding-place. I'll rouse the Marshmen and 
have him routed out." 

"That's all very well. Squire, but how?" 

"How, sir? " echoed that irascible gentleman. " How? 
Do you ask me how? Well, I don't know! How? 
Yes, how?" 

"That's the question," ruefully remarked Doctor 


*'0f course it is," returned the other. "Well, how 
would you set about it yourself? " 

"I'd beat the Marsh up from border to border." 

" So I will, sir, so I will ! " 

"And I should get that mulatto and hang him, for 
he's a sorcerer, a witchman; and I believe that as long 
as we have such a Jonah's curse among us that nothing 
will come right." 

"I'll do that at once. But we've only twenty-four 

Imogene stood up and looked at the squire, and in a 
steady voice, as if she were pronouncing a definite judg- 
ment, she said: "It is enough for me. I will undertake 
to find your son for you, and the schoolmaster, too." 
And without waiting for a reply she swiftly passed out 
of the room. 

"But what can we do? " stammered the squire. 

" I should find that mulatto and hang him." 

"But I don't care a fig about finding him." 

"You must," persisted the cleric, "for he is the cause 
of the trouble. Find that mulatto, and leave the rest 
to Imogene. She has spoken, and you may be sure 
she'll keep her word. B ut find that mulatto ! " 



JERK was kept busy all day at the Ship Inn, for 
Imogene had left her post and Mrs. Waggetts, 
who appeared to have grave matters of her 
own to fuss about, kept the young potboy in command. 
He was sorry about this, for he was unable to visit his 
estate upon the Marsh, and he was eager to view his 
latest purchase, the gallows. But to his great satis- 
faction he heard it discussed by a farmer and a fisher- 
man who sat drinking at the bar. 

" I tell you that there's a gallows erected on the Marsh 
nigh Littlestone Point," the fisherman was saying. "I 
could see it quite plain at sunrise when we were running 
up on to the beach." 

"And you say that there was a man a-hangin' from 
it.f^ " said the farmer. 

"Aye, that's what I said, and I thought as how you 
could tell me what man it was." 

*'I don't know nothing," replied the farmer, "except 
that the demon riders was out again last night, and if 
what you says is right, why, they're at their tricks again, 
I suppose. ' ' And the farmer gave the fisherman a kno w- 



ing wink. However, this didn't trouble Jerry, for the 
laugh was all on his side. Not content with an empty 
scaffold, he had gone out the night before, while Doctor 
Syn and the captain had been chatting in the sanded 
parlour, and collected two great sacks full of dried sticks 
and sand, which, with the help of a few tightly knotted 
lengths of twine, he had converted into the semblance 
of a man, and this same dummy he had hanged from 
the rusty chain. It had looked splendid swinging there 
with the mist wrapped round its feet. This indeed was 
playing hangman's games with a vengeance. Impa- 
tient as he was to see the fruits of his labour, impatient 
he had to remain, for he was not released till nightfall, 
when Mrs. Waggetts entered the bar with Sexton Mipps. 
Freed at last from duty, Jerry stepped outside, pulling 
his hat over his eyes and tucking up his collar, for the 
wind was blowing up for a cold night. He was leaving 
the yard with a brisk step when he noticed a cloaked 
figure coming to meet him. It was Imogene. 

*' Jerry," she whispered, "who put up that gallows 
on your plot of land.^" 

"It's my gallows," answered Jerk proudly. "I paid 
for it, and Mister Mipps it was wot helped me to set it 

"It's a real one, Jerry," the girl replied. 

"Yes, that it is — and ain't it fine .f^" 

"But there's a man, a real man hanging there." 

At this Jerk slapped his knee with enthusiasm and 


cried aloud: "Now by all the barrels of rum! if I ain't 
fit to take in the devil hisself , wot I believes is a sexton 
dressed up. For that same corpse wot you've seed 
a-danglin' from my gallows tree ain't a corpse at all, 
but sticks, sand, and sacks wot I invented to look like 


'* Are you sure, Jerry? " said the girl. 

**I'm a-goin' out there myself now; so come along and 
see for yourself." 

"I've been there once this evening, Jerry." 

"Well, come along o' me and you shall give the old 
scarecrow wot's a-swing on my gallows a good sharp 
tweak in the ribs." So off they set through the church- 
yard and out over the Marsh. 

"Jerry," whispered the girl presently, "there's some- 
thing queer going to happen soon. Perhaps to-night. 
Perhaps to-morrow night. And it's something un- 
common queer, too." 

"Now what makes you think that.^ " said Jerry, look- 
ing up at her. 

"I believe, Jerry, that there are certain tides that run 
from the Channel round Dungeness that wash up the 
dead seamen from the deep waters, and all the time that 
they lie near shore waiting for the ebb to take 'em back 
to their old wrecked ships in the deep their spirits 
come ashore and roam about us. I feel that way to- 
night. I can almost smell death in the air." 

"Well, that's a funny notion," remarked the boy. 


turning it over in his mind, "but I dare say you are 
right. After all, the sea, what does look so tidy on the 
top, must have lots of ugly secrets underneath, and I 
don't see why it shouldn't want to wash 'em ashore once 
in a way. I've often wondered myself about the dead 
what moves about inside the sea, and I thinks some- 
times w^hen the high tide runs into the great sluice and 
near fills the dykes that perhaps it buries things it's 
sick of in the mud. P'raps it's a-doin' it now, and 
that's wot's given you them notions." 

"Perhaps it is, Jerry." 

Now the mist was so thick that they did not get a far 
view of Jerk's gallows; indeed they had crossed the 
one-planked bridge over the dyke and half climbed 
Gallows Tree Hill before they viewed it at all. But as 
soon as they did Jerry sprang forward crying : " ^^'llo's 
been messing about with my bag o' sticks .^^ " 

The sacking had been torn, and from the slit appeared 
a hand. Jerry seized the hand and pulled. The rusty 
chain squeaked, and one of the rotten links "gave," and 
the ghastly fruit of the gallows tree fell upon the young 
hangman, who was borne to the ground beneath the 
falling weight. Imogene, with a cry, pulled it from 
him, and Jerk scrambled to his feet. Then they both 

The mildewed sacking, wet with the dense mist, had 
severed in the fall; the threads had rent at a hundred 
points, and from the fragments of scattered debris the 


dead face of Rash looked up with protruding eyes that 
stared from the blood-streaked flesh. 

Jerk's gallows had borne fruit. 

For minutes they stood looking. The cloak had 
fallen from the girl's shoulders, and the shrieking wind 
flapped in her rough dress and tore at her streaming hair. 
Jerk, with his ambitions fulfilled, found himself most 
uncomfortably scared. For minutes neither of them 
spoke. They could only stare. Stare at the huddled 
horror and listen to the jangle of the broken gibbet 
chain. Suddenly Imogene remembered something which 
brought her back to consciousness, for she spoke: 

"Jerry, after seeing that, are you afraid to return to 
the village alone. f^" 

Jerry had not yet found his voice, so he shook his 

"Then go to the Court House and report what we've 
found to the squire, and tell him that Imogene has gone 
out to keep the rest of her promise." 

Jerry got her to repeat the sentence again, and he 
watched her leap the dyke and disappear into the mist, 
and then from behind the scaffold stepped the captain. 

"You'll do nothing of the kind, potboy," he said, 
seizing Jerk's arm and leading him away from the scaf- 
fold. "I've other work for you to do. We're going 
back to the village to make our experiment." 

As they stumbled across the Marsh, scrambling the 
dykes that skirted the fields, the wind got up off shore. 


scattering the mists and driving them across the sea 
toward the beacons of France. Half an hour later, as 
the captain and Hangman ;^rk approached the vicar- 
age, a small fishing boat, carrying no light but much sail, 
raced before the screaming wind toward Dungeness, 
and with a firm hand grasping the tiller and a great 
heart beating high, stood Imogene, blinded with lash- 
ing spray and her drenched streaming hair, fighting the 
cruel sea to keep her word to the squire. 



THEY entered the vicarage by the back door and 
found the bo'sun roasting chestnuts on the 
bars of the kitchen fire. There was another 
man there, with his back to the door, and by his black 
clothes and scholarly stoop Jerry recognized the vicar. 
So quietly had the captain opened the door that neither 
of the men roasting chestnuts was aware of their pres- 
ence. They went on roasting the nuts, when an aston- 
ishing thing happened: The vicar, in trying to take 
out a hot chestnut from the bar, knocked three of the 
bo'sun's into the red-hot coals, which so enraged the 
bo'sun that he administered with his forearm a resound- 
ing clump on the back of the cleric's head. Jerry 
thought this a distinct liberty, but the vicar only 
laughed, and when he turned round Jerry saw that it 
was Morgan Walters dressed in an entire clerical suit, 
and not Doctor Syn at all. 

Morgan Walters looked sheepish and uncomfortable 
when he beheld the captain, but the latter remarked 
that his ** get-up" was magnificent, and that his black 
hair, which had been carefully sprinkled by the bo'sun 



with flour to make it gray, so nearly resembled that 
of the cleric, that ^Morgan Walters was evidently in- 
tended by Providence to be a parson, for such a capi- 
tal one did he make. Thus encouraged, Morgan Walters 
strutted about the kitchen, and the likeness to Doctor 
Syn (for he was of the same build and Doctor Syn had 
always the sailor's rolling gait) was so perfect that 
Jerk began to laugh, but was speedily hushed by the 

"Now remember, Walters," the captain said, "there's 
no danger in this if you do exactly as I told you, but 
you will have to be spry, of course." 

"If he sticks me, then I deserves to be stuck," re- 
plied Morgan Walters. "I've been Aunt Sally at the 
county fairs afore now, and never got whacked, not 
once. I always could bob down in time in those days, 
and I didn't have no bo'sun's whistle to help me." 

And then began the captain's experiment, a most 
curious game, and, in spite of its tragic purpose, a 
humorous game it was. 

The bo'sun, whistle in mouth, was hidden in the little 
front garden; the captain and Jerk crouched in the 
corner of the room of which the window had no view; 
while Morgan Walters, in all points resembling Doctor 
Syn, sat reading in the ingle seat by the fire — sat read- 
ing a book with his back to the window, from which the 
shutters had been thrown open and the broken case- 
ment set ajar. It was a weird occasion: the captain 


crouching down in the corner holding on to young Jerk 
with a warning hand, the bo'sun with his whistle 
hidden in the garden, and the firelight aided by one 
candle upon the table throwing the two wavering shad- 
ows of the pseudo parson upon the whitewashed wall. 
Jerk could hardly persuade himself that it was not the 
Doctor, so clever was the rig-out of Morgan Walters, 
and he could hardly forbear letting out a laugh as the 
crafty seaman kept turning the pages of the book. But 
he had ample time to control himself before anything 
happened ; indeed, a whole hour he had to wait — an hour 
which seemed a lifetime; and then the occurrence was 
swift and terrible. 

A shrill whistle sounded from the garden; down went 
Morgan Walters's head; and with a thud which broke 
the surrounding wall plaster into a thousand powdery 
cracks, a great harpoon trembled in the wall, exactly 
one foot above the settle. 

" Gone ! " shouted the bo'sun from the garden, and he 
immediately tumbled up through the window, closing 
the shutters behind him. 

"Well, sir," said Morgan Walters, "it wasn't the 
ducking I minded when it came to it, but the waiting 
wasn't pleasant." 

"You did well, my man," said the captain. "And 
now, potboy, after that little experiment I'll know how 
to proceed, how to prescribe like an analyzing apothe- 
cary, so, as it's Sunday to-morrow, which ain't far oflF 


now, we'll get back to the Ship Inn, bo'sun, and you 
can light us there, whilst Morgan Walters can change 
his clothes and get back and to sleep." 

So they left him there, the bo'sun with a lantern step- 
ping before the captain and Jerk to the door of the Ship. 
Just as they reached the door a horseman galloped up 
from the Hythe Road and, saluting, asked if any could 
direct him to Captain Collyer. As soon as the captain 
had made himself know^n, Jerk saw the rider hand the 
captain a blue paper, which the latter put carefully into 
his pocket. Then he led the rider and the bo'sun into 
the sanded parlour and gave them drinks, after which 
he went home to bed and slept sound. 

But back in the vicarage, just as Morgan Walters 
was about to divest himself of his ecclesiastical robes, 
Mr. Mipps entered with a loaded blunderbuss and re- 
quested him to turn round, hold his hands above his 
head, and precede him to the coffin shop at the farther 
end of the village. 

Doctor Syn slept at the Court House, for he did not 
intend to go to the vicarage any more at night. He had 
a dread of that sitting-room of his. The horrible whir- 
ring of a certain weapon boring a whole through the 
shutter was still in his ears, and he could see a terrible 
eye, magnified by the bottle glass of the casement, 
looking in at him from the darkness. No, he had had 
enough of that room, he told himself, and so he wel- 
comed the squire's invitation to pass the night in the 


Court House. Complaining of fatigue, he went to his 
room, but the squire sat up late wondering how Imogene 
was faring, and whether or no she would succeed in 
rescuing his son, and how in the world she was setting 
about it. About two o'clock in the morning he de- 
tected a smell of burning. He went upstairs. The 
smell seemed to be coming from the room assigned to 
Doctor Syn, but there was only the firelight showing 
under the door, so thinking that the Doctor was asleep, 
he put his eye to the keyhole. But the Doctor was 
not asleep. He was dressed in shirt and breeches, and 
the sleeves of the shirt were turned up. He was stand- 
ing by the fireplace with a red-hot poker in his hand, 
looking at a seared mark upon his forearm. 

"What the devil's he burning his arm for.^" thought 
the squire. Doctor Syn then began to whistle under his 
breath ; to whistle that old tune the words of which the 
squire knew so well: 

"Here's to the feet wot have walked the plank." 

The squire remembered certain words of the captain: 
Clegg's one tattoo — the picture of a man walking the plank, 
executed badly upon his forearm. **Good God! Was it 
possible.^ No! Ridiculous!" 

An uncanny feeling came over the squire, and he went 
downstairs quietly, without knocking at the Doctor's 
door, as he had intended — went downstairs to the fire 


in the library, relit his pipe, and began to think about 
Doctor Syn. 

So when Sunday morning broke, two more strange 
things had happened : Morgan Walters, for one thing, 
had disappeared, parson's clothes and all, and Doctor 
Syn, on going to the vicarage, discovered a new ugly 
gash in the plaster of the wall, and he felt indeed thank- 
ful that he had passed the night at the Court House. 

The villagers had it announced to them at the morn- 
ing service that, in order to undertake a great spiritual 
mission to the blacks. Doctor Syn was leaving Dym- 
church that very night; leaving after evensong by fish- 
ing lugger which was timed to pick up a certain Spanish 
trader bound for Jamaica and sailing upon the next day 
from the port of Rye. So all that Sunday afternoon 
the villagers, with much sorrow in their hearts at the 
thought of losing their faithful shepherd and good friend, 
prepared great beacons along the coast sea-wall as far 
as Littlestone, in order to light and cheer their vicar on 
his lonely way at night. 



IMOGENE had got to Rye, and got there through 
the devil of a bad sea. It was Sunday morning, 
and by the time that the church bells were ring- 
ing for matins she had safely beached her boat with 
the help of two fishermen who knew her well. With 
these two old salts she breakfasted. A rude meal it 
was, served in a hut upon the shingle. Fish, bread, and 
hot broth were things that she liked, and she did credit 
to the fare, for she was hungry. She was also sorely in 
need of sleep, and the old fellows tried to persuade her 
to take a nap, but she would not hear of it, for time 
pressed and she had much to do. 

Before leaving Dymchurch, Mrs. Waggetts had pro- 
vided her with a case of pistols and a sealed packet of 
papers. This packet she now examined. It contained 
two papers. It was fortunate, indeed, that Doctor Syn 
had in his charity taught her to read . One of the papers 
was a letter of instructions telling her the easiest way 
of setting about the rescue of the squire's son, and she 
knew the advice to be sound, for the signature bore the 

great name of the Scarecrow. What's in a name, eh.^^ 



More than Mr. Shakespeare gave credit for, because as 
the name of Robespierre had carried terror and power 
in France, and as the name of Napoleon was changed 
to Boney for the frightening of children by tyrannical 
nurses in England, so the title of the Scarecrow bore the 
like qualities on Romney Marsh, for it meant that the 
power of the smugglers was behind it, and would be used 
to force obedience to the Scarecrow's behests. Imogene 
knew, therefore, that her papers were of power, creden- 
tials that would get her a hearing, and the rest must be 
left to her own initiative, her wits, and her courage, and 
to chance. Yes, if she carried out these orders to the 
letter she was pretty confident that all would be well. 
She read the letter of instructions till she had thoroughly 
mastered its contents, and then burned it on the bucket 
of live coals outside the hut. The other letter she kept, 
for she had great need of that. It was addressed to 
one Antony Whyllie, attorney-at-law, Watchbell Street, 
Rye, Sussex, and read : 

We find that we have further need of your help. The son 
of our squire is in the hands of the Rye press gang. We 
have accordingly dispatched to you one of our messengers, a 
young girl upon whom no suspicions will fall. You must see 
to it that you and the girl succeed in rescuing the young man. 
If the girl returns without him, all we have to say to you is 
that it will be the worse for you both; it will also be the last 
of you both. We would have done well perhaps to send you 
more help in this diflBcult venture, but this we cannot do, the 
girl being the only one of our servants available. However, 


you will find in her a young woman of great resource, and of 
high courage, and those qualities, added to your well-known 
ability and cunning in getting out of difficult corners, should 
enable you to carry out our wishes for our own convenience 
and for the saving of your life, which we presume affords you 
some interest. 

[Signed] Scarecrow. 

With this useful letter tucked away in her blouse in 
company with one of Mrs. Waggetts' pistols, Imogene, 
after bidding farewell to the two fishermen, struck out 
from the beach across the mile or so of flat country that 
lies in front of the little rising town of Rye. It is a 
fortified town, an ancient stronghold against whose 
walls the sea at one time used to beat but has long since 
receded. Her heart beat high as she looked up at the 
great battlements and the quaint little houses that 
clustered in all shapes and sizes around them, higher 
and higher, until they reached the church tower, the 
highest point of all. 

She did not enter the town by the north gate, but 
skirted the wall and ascended the long irregular step- 
way that rises from the river wharf — a long ladder of 
stone that climbs the surface of rock zigzag till you find 
yourself at the top of the wall and standing upon the 
cobbled roadway of Watchbell Street — a thoroughfare 
made green with moss and with rank grass and rendered 
vastly attractive by the picturesque houses that flank 
its little pavements. To one of these little houses 


Imogene made her way, a little white house with a 
quaint little white front door. She pulled the brass 
chain, and in response to the bell a serving-maid an- 
nounced that Mr. Whyllie was not then at home, hav- 
ing gone to church with his wife. So perforce she had 
to wait until the master and mistress returned from the 
morning service. A quaint old lady was the wife of the 
starchy old law^^er. She was dressed in highly flowered 
brocades, with a curious bonnet, under which her round 
little face shone out with much animation. A clever 
little face it was, with a queer little pursed-up mouth, 
and a tiny little nose with an upward tilt, and her eyes 
were lively. It was the face of a clever eccentric. 
Imogene saw them coming and gave them a profound 
courtesy as they drew near to their front door. 

"Lord love you. Mister Whyllie," the old lady ex- 
claimed, "and what's the pretty wench bobbing at us 

"It may be that she would speak to you, my dear," 
replied the lawyer to his wife. 

"Then why doesn't she, sir?" answered the little 
lady, raising her glasses and quizzing Imogene from head 
to foot. "A handsome face she has. Mister Whyllie, a 
handsome face indeed, refined yet rough, but then again 
rough yet refined, take it how you will, but Lord love 
you again, Mister Whyllie, she has positively the most 
obnoxious clothes you could wish for to meet, and no 
shoes, neither has she stockings, sir, but shapely legs, 


sir, good legs indeed, though you need not embarrass 
the child by quizzing them. Mister Whyllie." 

Mr. Whyllie looked away awkwardly and, raising his 
hat, inquired whether Imogene wished to speak to them. 

"I have come to speak to you, sir, on most grave 

"To do with one of my cases, I suppose," he answered, 
by way of explanation, to his wife, for he had no wish 
that she should suspect him of having any dealings with 
such a handsome wench. 

"Which case? " snapped the suspicious little wife. 

"Well, really, now, I cannot say off hand," faltered 
the lawyer. "Probably the Appledore land claims, but 
I wouldn't swear to it, for it could quite equally be 
something to do with the Canver squabble. In fact, 
more likely to be, quite likely to be. Probably is, prob- 
ably is. It might so very well be that, mightn't it, 
my love?" 

"Yes, and it might not be that," returned his wife 
with scorn. "Why don't you ask the girl if you want to 
know, instead of standing there like the town idiot? 
Being a lawyer, I naturally suppose you to have a 
tongue in your head." 

"I have, my dear," exclaimed the lawyer desper- 
ately, "but dang it, ma'am, you will not let me wag it." 

"You blasphemous horror!" screamed the lady, 
sweeping past him into the house, for the serving-maid 
was holding the front door open for them. 


It was, by the way, a good thing for Antony WhylHe 
that his house was situated in a quiet corner of Watch- 
bell Street, a very good thing, for these sudden squalls 
would repeatedly burst from his wife, regardless alto- 
gether of publicity. 

With a sigh the attorney begged Imogene to follow 
him, and led the way into a little breakfast-room whose 
latticed windows looked out upon the street. It was a 
panelled room, but the panels were enamelled with 
white paint, which gave to the place a most cheerful 
aspect. Upon each panel hung a mahogany framed 
silhouette portrait of some worthy relative and over 
each panel was hung a brass spoon or brazen chestnut 
roaster, each one polished like gold and affording a 
bright contrast to the black portraits below, which 
stood out so very severely against the white panelling. 
There was in one corner of the room an embrasure filled 
with shelves, the shelves in their turn being filled with 
china. A round mahogany table, mahogany chairs, 
and a heraldic mantelpiece made up the rest of the 
furniture of this altogether delightful little room into 
which Imogene followed the lawyer, who placed a chair 
for her and shut the door. He then sat down by the 
fire and awaited her pleasure to address him. Imogene 
handed him the paper which had been prepared for her, 
and as he began to read she drew the silver pistol from 
her blouse and held it ready beneath a fold of her dress. 
That the lawyer was greatly startled was only too plain, 


for as he read the letter he turned a terribly pallid 
colour in the face. 

*'God bless me! but it's monstrous," he said, starting 
up, with his eyes still on the paper. "Not content 
with holding up my coach, commandeering my horses, 
and making me look extremely ridiculous, they now 
force me, a lawyer, an honest lawyer, to break those very 
laws that I have sworn to defend. It's monstrous! 
Utterly monstrous! What am I to do.^ What can I 
do? My wife must know of this ! My wife must read 
this letter," and accordingly he took a step toward the 
door. But Imogene was too quick for him. With her 
back against it and the pistol levelled at his head, the 
lawyer was entirely nonplussed. 

*'If you please, sir," she said, "I had orders that 
you were not to leave the room, indeed that you were 
not to leave my sight, until I was quite satisfied that 
you would carry out the Scarecrow's orders." 

" No, really ? " exclaimed the lawyer. 

*'Yes, indeed, sir," repHed the girl, and then added 
in a frightened voice: "If you disobey the Scarecrow, 
it is just as well that I should shoot you here, for all the 
chance you will have to get away from the penalty, and 
for myself — well, the consequences would be as fatal 
to me in either case, so you see if you do not help me by 
obeying the letter you will not only be killing yourself 
but me, too." 

The lawyer looked blankly at Imogene, and then, re- 


treating from the close and unpleasant proximity of the 
pistol, sank into his armchair. 

"Put it down, girl ! Put that pistol down for heaven's 
sake, for how can I think whilst I am being made a 
target of?" 

Imogene lowered the weapon. 

*'I really don't know what to say," went on the 
wretched old man. "I am entirely fogged out of all 
vision. Muddled, muddled — entirely muddled. I 
wish you would let my wife come in. Oh, how I do 
wish you would! \Miatever her faults may be, she is 
really most excellent at thinking out difficulties of this 
kind. In fact, I must confess that she does all my think- 
ing work for me. Women sometimes, you know, have 
most excellent brains — quick brains. They have, you 
know. Really they have. Quick tongues, too. My 
wife has. Oh, yes, really, you know, she's got both, 
and the tongue part of her is developed to a most aston- 
ishing degree. But give her her due. Give her her 
due. So's her brain. So's her brain. A most clever 
brain — most clever. Very quick; exceptionally alert. 
As clever as a man, really she is. In fact, she's ab- 
solutely cleverer than most. She's cleverer than me. 
Oh, yes, she is. I confess it. I'm not conceited. Why, 
she does all my work for me — so there you are. It 
proves it, don't it? Writes all my speeches for me. 
Really, you know, I am utterly useless without her. 
She guides me — absolutely guides me, she does. "VMiy, 


alone I'm hopeless. How on earth do you suppose that 
I can get a young man out of the hands of the Rye press 
gang? They're the most desperate of ruffians. The 
most desperate set of good-for-noughts that you could 
possibly wish to meet." 

The handle of the door turned suddenly, but Imo- 
gene's foot was not easily shifted. 

"There's something in the way of the door, you clumsy 
clodhopper!" called the voice of Mrs. Why Hie from out- 

"I know there is, my love," faltered the husband, and 
then to Imogene he said: "Oh, please let her come 
in. She will be quiet, I'm sure." Then in a louder 
tone : "You will be quiet, won't you, my love.^^ " 

"Antony," called the voice of the spouse, "are you 
addressing yourself to that handsome girl.^ Are you 
calling her your love? " Then in a tone of doom : " Wait 
till I get in!" 

"Oh, dear, oh, dear, she's misunderstanding me 
again. Don't let her come in now, for heaven's sake!" 
But Imogene had already opened the door and in had 
burst the little lady, and without heeding Imogene she 
rushed across the room and administered with her mit- 
tened hand a very resounding and sound box upon her 
husband's ear. 

"Now perhaps you will behave yourself like a re- 
spectable married man, like an old fogey that you are, 
like everything in fact that you ought to be, but aren't 


and never will be ! Will you behave yourseK now, you 
truly terrible old man? " 

"Certainly, my love," meekly replied the lawyer, 
" but do look at this young lady." 

'*Sakes alive!" she exclaimed when she did look at 
Imogene, "for if she hasn't got a pistol in her hand, 
you're no fool, Antony ! " 

"She has got a pistol in her hand, my love, and I'll 
not only be a fool, but a dead fool, if you don't find some 
way out of the difficulty." 

"And what is the difficulty, pray.'^" she asked, look- 
ing from her terrified husband to the extraordinary girl. 
"Oh, keep that pistol down, will you, my dear? for 
there is no immediate danger of my eating you. Just 
because I keep this fool of a husband of mine in his 
place, you mustn't think me an utter virago." 

"I am afraid it is me that you will be thinking a 
virago," answered the girl, still feigning fear in her 
voice, "but indeed I cannot help myseK. This un- 
pleasant situation has been forced upon me." 

But the old lady cut in again with: "I beseech you 
both to cease making melodramatic idiots of yourselves 
and tell me calmly and clearly what all this to-do is 
about. Now, Antony, speak up and tell me all about 
it. Come along, sir, make haste and tell me if you have 
any ideas left in that silly head of yours. No doubt 
you've been getting yourself into another pretty mess. 
Isn't it enough for you that you go out, sir, a-driving 


and get robbed of your coach and cattle? I should 
really have thought that had been quite enough to keep 
you out of mischief for a day or two. But no! Here 
you are in trouble again. No doubt you have quite 
forgotten the little lecture I read to you upon that oc- 

"No, my dear, I cannot forget it, I assure you. It 
is still very vivid to me, I promise you." For indeed 
the little old man was still very conscious of a strange 
feeling of slippers whenever he chanced to sit down. 

*'0h, yes, you have forgotten it," went on the irre- 
pressible lady. "You must have done so. Now tell 
me what on earth have you been doing to make this 
handsome girl behave in such a ridiculous fashion?" 

With one hand still rubbing his boxed ear and with 
the other holding out to his wife the terrible letter, the 
lawyer explained as coherently as possible the whole 
situation. He told the facts in a timid voice, for he 
was greatly troubled as to how his wife would take it, 
but her manner was the most shocking surprise to him, 
it was so entirely different from anything he might have 
expected, for when she heard about the press gang, she 
clapped her little mittens together, and, laughing aloud, 
urged her husband to go on with the tale which she 
found the most refreshing she had heard for a month of 
Sundays, and at the conclusion she gave way to the most 
extraordinary capers of excitement, literally tripping 
round and round the table, exclaiming that nothing 


could have been more fortunate. "La, sir," she cried, 
"this little affair is truly a Godsend to me." 

"In whatever way?" asked the amazed lawyer. 

"\Miy, you disproportionate dullard! ^Mio is head 
of the press gang, eh.^ Answer me that now, and you've 
got it." 

" Captain Tuff ton, isn't it, my love.^ " said the lawyer. 

"Captain Tuffton, of course it is," said his wife. 
"Captain Tuffton of a truth. That insufferable cox- 
comb, that atrociously obnoxious scent-smelling prof- 
ligate on whom I shall now be able to pay off old scores." 

' * Old scores, my love ? Old scores .^ " 

"La, sir, have you utterly forgotten how he snubbed 
me at Lady Rivers's card party and again at his lord- 
ship's water picnic? Has that slipped your memory, 
too? How he got that appallingly painted besom of a 
Parisian actress to imitate me to my face? Lord love 
you, blister Whyllie, I have long sworn to get even with 
that young idiot. WTiy, it was only this morning that 
I was puzzling out a thousand schemes all through 
church for his undoing, and here comes a direct answer 
to my prayers, and you seem to have covered yourself 
with the blues about it. "VMiy, Mister WTiyllie, here 
is not only a chance to humble him to the dust, but a 
most admirable occasion for his disgrace as well." 

"I am truly glad to hear you say so," was the hus- 
band's comment. "But I'm danged if I can see how 
you are to set about it." 


"Through the help of this girl here, stupid, and by 
the bewitching charms of your handsome niece from 
India, who has returned to England with her large 
fortune inherited from the British East India Com- 

The lawyer stared at his wife blankly, then genuine 
concern for that lady's health getting the better of his 
amazement, he said: "Can I fetch you your salts or 
anything, my love? Your pounce box or your vinai- 
grette? for I declare that you are wandering in your 
mind, my poor dear. I never had a niece in all my 
life, my love, and as for the British East India Company 
— well, I have heard of it, of course, but little else in- 
deed — very little else." 

"Well, for to-day you will have to know a good deal 
about it," said INIrs. Whyllie, "so you had better step 
into the library and read up its history, and as to your 
niece, your favourite niece, you will please do me the 
favour of remembering that you possess her, too, sir. 
Now, then. Mistress," addressing Imogene, "as soon as 
this husband of mine has taken himself off, I'll tell you 
your part in this affair." Taking the hint, the lawyer 
beat a retreat to the library, gladly leaving the difficult 
business in the hands of his wife. "Now, girl," she 
went on when they were alone, "I suppose I shouldn't 
be very far wrong if I surmised that you are head over 
ears in love with this young man that the press gang 
has taken, eh?" 


"Yes, I love him," said the girl quietly. 

"Ah!" sighed the lady, "that's all right, and I sup- 
pose I'm also not far out if I suppose that you would do 
a good deal to save him from being shipped off to the 
wars, eh?" 

"I will do anything to save him from that danger," 
said the girl. 

,"Good!" replied the old lady. "Then come up- 
stairs with me." 

Out of the room and across the little hall they went, 
and so up the broad white staircase to the dearest little 
bedroom imaginable, with a small four-posted bed with 
chintz frills and hangings, and a dressing-table set with 
bright silver ornaments. 

"Now this room is for you, my dear, for my hand- 
some niece from India, you understand.^ And now I 
must ask you to change your clothes and get into some 
pretty frock or other, and I must have you to know, my 
dear, that I have been married twice, and by my first 
marriage I must tell you, my dear, that I had a daugh- 
ter, a really beautiful daughter. This was years ago, 
of course, but she was just about your age as I remem- 
ber her By the way, what is your age, my dear.^ " 

"About sixteen, or I might be seventeen perhaps," 
said Imogene. 

"Ah, well, my daughter was just nineteen when she 
died," went on the old lady. "She was all I had in the 
world, for her father had died when she was quite a 


child. Yes, she was all that I had to love for fifteen 
years, and when she was taken I was so desperately 
lonely that in a weak moment I married that foolish 
Mister Whyllie, who is really very kind-hearted and 
quite a good man, but, oh ! how dull ! Indeed, my dear, 
he would never have been in the position he is now if I 
hadn't pushed him there. You see, my dear, he hasn't 
much brain. Why, he cannot boast a third of my 
powder, but on the whole I am glad that I married him, 
because he has given me such a lot to do helping him 
deceive other people that he isn't a born fool. But I 
really must not talk such a lot, for we have a deal to do, 
my dear. But I must just explain this : I spent a good 
deal of money upon pretty frocks for my daughter, and, 
oh! how sweet she used to look in them. Well worth 
the money it was, my dear, to see her look so pretty. 
Now every one of these dresses I have kept, and kept 
carefully, too. If the sweet child came back to me now, 
she would find all her things as well cared for, as clean, 
and as fresh as when she left me, for this was her room 
(this house belongs to me, my dear, not to that fool 
downstairs), and in these chests and in that oaken tall- 
boy there I have kept everything that reminds me of my 
darling. See!" And taking a key from a casket upon 
the chimney-piece she unlocked the tall oak cupboard, 
displaying to Imogene's gaze a sight to make her stand 
entranced. The daintiest dresses were there, and 
in the brass-bound coffer at the end of the bed the most 


costly laces and fine linen, and all kept sweet and pure 
in a strong scent of lavender. From these sacred treas- 
ures the old lady made selections, and by the time 
that the gong had sounded for the three o'clock dinner, 
instead of the handsome, dashing fisher-girl, there sat 
before the mirror, having the finishing touches put to 
her beautiful hair, done in the height of the fashion then 
existing, a beautiful young girl in a gown of country 
splendour, jewels glistening in her hair, and a diamond 
brooch of great beauty clasped into a lace fichu which 
set off her shapely neck to great advantage. 

\\Tiile she had been dressing the girl the old lady had 
with great tact got all of Imogene's history out of her, 
at least as much of it as she knew, and just before they 
stepped from the room, as she surveyed her protegee 
with admiration, she held up her little quaint face and 
requested Imogene to kiss her, which she did. 

"And now, my dear, we will go down to dinner, and 
the while we are eating I will tell you exactly what we 
are to do, and," she added with enthusiasm, "if that 
squire's son, whom I regard as a fortunate young fellow, 
does not marry you — well, I'll horsewhip him myself, 
aye, both him and his father, and adopt you as my own 
daughter, for what a relief it would be to have you in 
the house to look at, for you know, my dear, you are 
vastly prettier than my foolish Mister "VMiyllie," saying 
which she tripped lightly down the stairs followed by 
the dazzling Imogene. 


Had Imogene been in reality the old lady's daughter, 
returned to her from the dim side of the veil, she could 
not have been shown more kindly love and attention. 
Even Mr. Whyllie got a happy time of it, for the little 
old lady was in the best of tempers, entirely at peace 
and light-hearted. Indeed at the conclusion of the 
meal the lawyer found himself pushed into a comfort- 
able chair with a small table at his side upon which stood 
a fine old bottle of port, and to his utter astonishment 
his wife standing near with a churchwarden pipe filled 
with tobacco and a lighted paper spill all ready for him. 
So he also began to bless the coming of his niece from 
India, wishing that she had been invented sooner and 
that .she was going to remain in the house to the end 
of the proverbial chapter. 

Then Mrs. Whyllie, over a dish of tea with Imogene, 
unfolded her plan of campaign for the rescue of young 
Denis, and the manner in which this plan was carried 
out is set forth in a following chapter. 



THAT insufferable coxcomb Captain Tuffton was 
in the act of sprinkling his lace handkerchief 
with the scent that old ]Mrs. Whyllie found so 
atrociously obnoxious when his valet entered the room 
with a note. The insufferable one went on with his 
sprinkling and languidly inquired w^ho the note was 

"I really cannot say, sir," returned the valet. 

"Cannot say.^" repeated the insufferable, lifting his 
pencilled eyebrows into the higher regions of astonish- 
ment. "Indeed, my good Transome — and you call 
yourself a valet, don't you now? It is not a bill, I trust, 
strayed in upon the Sabbath out of cunning, for I have 
not seen a bill these many years now, and the sight, I 
feel convinced, might upset my stomach." 

"I think, sir, that there is no valet in Europe so 
quick to smell out a bill or so nimble at tearing them up 
as your humble servant." Transome could be tre- 
mendous upon occasions and he certainly was when he 
added: "And under your livery, sir, I venture to sug- 
gest that my practice of bill nosing has been unlimited." 



"Now, come, my good Transome, you disrespectful 
dog. I'll not have you chiding me, upon my soul I 
won't, for I have a most damned head on me this fore- 
noon. I generally do get a damned bad head on me o' 
Sundays. All a-buzz, I declare, and it's those damned 
exasperating church bells. I never met anything so 
persistent in my life. They go on, they go on, and 
there's no stopping them, now is there .^^ As plentiful as 
bills are church bells and just as taxing to the nerves. 
If ever I have to oblige the blasted Parliament by 
sleeping in it, I shall endeavour to keep awake to vote 
for the abolishment of church bells." 

"And you might, sir, at the same time do away with 
bills. It would be most convenient, wouldn't it, sir.^" 

"Well, I suppose it would. If I ever do get in, which 
I think extremely unlikely, for which I most heartily 
thank my Maker, knowing how unutterably bored I 
should become, but if ever I do get in, I will most cer- 
tainly abolish bills and bells, and if there should be any 
other little thing that you think might sensibly be 
abolished, why, you must jog my memory, Transome, 
and jog it hard, won't you, my dear fellow, for you know 
what a memory I have? Damned bad, upon my soul 
it is! 

"Ah, sir," sighed the valet, "y^^ wi^l become a great 
orator, a very great orator." 

"I might, my dear fellow, I really might, although I 
am positive that I shan't, because, you see, I know that 


I shall go most damnably to sleep. I shan't be able to 
help myself." 

"You must really make an effort, sir, to keep awake, 
for the sake of your country, you really must, sir, for 
you will make as great a statesman as you have a 
soldier. You cannot help it, sir. Talent such as 
yours, genius such as yours, is like murder, sir — it will 

"No, I am a lazy good-for-nought, upon my soul I 
am, and a statesman I shall never become, for even if 
I do get pushed into a seat, what shall I lay on my sleep- 
ing in it all the time.^ A pack o' dogs, sixteen fighting 
cocks, and a blasted nag.^^ Will you take me? " 

"Against what, sir.^^" 

"Against nothing, you damned, disrespectful dog! 
Upon my honour, against nothing but my sleeping. 
What are you flashing that deuced silver tray about 
for? It catches the light in a most exasperating man- 
ner and causes the most acute suffering to my wretched 
eyesight. Have you no feeling at all, my good Tran- 
some, or have you lost it as well as your respect? Have 
you never suffered the spasms of the damned? I de- 
clare that my poor wretched head is executing positive 
manoeuvres this morning. Musket drill and cavalry 
charges are going on inside it the whole time. Oh, dear, 
oh, dear ! How I wish you would open that note, instead 
of flourishing it about again. You surely don't expect 
me to open it, do you?" 


Accordingly the valet opened the letter and announced 
to his master that it was a lady's handwriting. 

"Then you had better give it to me," drawled the 
captain with a resigned air, "for if you pry into the 
contents of the poor thing's soul, it will be all over the 
tow^n in an hour or so, and another woman's reputation 
w^ill have disappeared. Wliy, Lord love us," he added 
as he glanced at the note in question, "if it isn't from 
that she-dragon herself, that most terrible and alarm- 
ing Missus What'shername, Missus — Missus — oh, what 
the devil is her name, eh? " 

The valet suggested humbly that the lady in question 
would most probably have signed her name at the end 
of the letter. 

"Oh, yes, of course, what a downright sane fellow 
you are, to be sure. Now with all my brain power I 
should never have thought of that. Perfectly ridicu- 
lous of me, I know, but I really shouldn't have, 
you know. Ah! I remember who the woman is now, 
without looking. She's the wife of that perfectly 
idiotic lawyer fellow who always fastens up his fat 
stomach in a white waistcoat a cut or two too 
small, but I'm blamed if I can remember even his 
name, so you see we are not much nearer to it, are we 

Again the valet repeated the brilliant suggestion of 
looking to the end of the letter, and the master, having 
graciously accepted his suggestion, announced to the 


valet that the mystery was solved at last and that the 
name was nothing more nor less than Why Hie. 

"And I wonder what the devil she can want with me, 

The valet again made a brilliant suggestion that if 
he would take the pains to read the letter he would in 
all likelihood discover. So with a very bored air the 
perfumed soldier read the note right through, and threw 
it down upon the dressing-table with a great smile of 

"She desires me to wait upon her this afternoon, my 
good fellow. She wishes positively to let bygones be 
bygones, and desires that I will bury all past differences 
by partaking of an hour's hospitality from their house. 
She also states that she has a wealthy niece but just 
returned from India, and she desires that this same niece 
may have the privilege of meeting the cream of the Rye 
bachelors. My dear fellow, what a truly terrible age 
we do live in! I have never heard of such daring and 
unblushing matchmaking. Well, I suppose it is a thing 
that we must expect in a Godforsaken little hole of a 
place like this, where the available bachelors are few 
indeed and possess not the smallest knowledge of how 
to decently deport themselves, much less their clothes." 

"Besides, sir," the valet ventured to remark, "the 
red cloth of the military has a great attraction for match- 
makers. It is always so very respectable, and it carries 
a most remarkable tone with it, to be sure, sir." 


"Well, I think I will go, at all events," went on the 
insufferable, "and throw my eye over the niece, though 
I really cannot expect much in the beauty line, for she 
will probably be forty if she's a day, judging by the 
ancient aunt. However, it will not be such bad sport 
leading her on a bit. Have you ever practised the 
amusing art of exciting elderly spinsters? If not, do, 
my dear fellow, for it has its humour, and, really now, 
humour is about all that is left to us nowadays, isn't it? 
Hurry up, my good fellow ! No, you dolt, I am not on 
duty. What do I want my sword for? Swords get 
most damnably between your legs at the wrong mo- 
ment. They really are positively useless lumber. I 
cannot think why they are not abolished. Damned 
clanky things, always in the wrong place, and tripping 
one up when least on one's guard. I'll take my cane. 
No, no, you positive Judas, the one with the scarlet 
tassle of course. And my perfume box — no, no, that's 
a snuffbox. I hate snuff. You know that I always 
endeavour to leave it behind whenever possible, for it 
has a most damnable habit of getting up my nose and 
bringing on the most acute attacks of sneezing. Now 
my hat and — no, perhaps not the cloak. A cloak, my 
good fellow, has a most annoying habit of hiding the 
curve of the w^aist. And I really do think that even my 
most bitter detractors must own that my waist curve 
is entirely and absolutely right. Now how are we, eh? 
Has the most criticising valet in the world got anything 


to remedy, anything to suggest? I think we can do 
Httle else with the cravat?" 

"It would be passed by Mister Brummel himself." 
"Then we are ready, are we? Au re voir, therefore, 
my estimable friend! Keep your spirits up, and don't 
forge my name to a check in my absence ! " With which 
piece of jocular raillery Captain Tuffton, the military 
lady-killer, swaggered out of the room, swinging the 
red-tasselled cane, and humming in well-modulated 
tenor a Spanish love song in very bad Spanish; but that 
didn't matter, as nobody was any the wiser, and liter- 
ally tripping into Watchbell Street, he approached the 
little white front door behind which were waiting three 
good people, preparing a most superb ambuscade for 
the insufferable captain to walk into, an ambuscade 
that was going to very effectually put an end to the 
military swagger of this scent-breathing officer. He 
rang the bell languidly, little thinking it a tocsin of 
battle and of sudden death. 



CAPTAIN TUFFTON could certainly not com- 
plain of his reception, for the lawyer was posi- 
tively nervous in his endeavours to please, 
while Mrs. ^Vhyllie, in her anxiety to let bygones be 
bygones, positively basked in the sunshine of his glory, 
and as to Imogene — well, she at least had the speedy 
satisfaction of knowing that her appearance had caused 
havoc in the heart of the lady-killer. 

"And so you are back from India.^" he said to the 
beautiful niece. 

"So it appears, sir," answered Imogene, with a roguish 

"Ah, yes. Of course it is only too obvious," an- 
swered the military one, "for here you are, aren't you 
now? It's a beastly place out there, I suppose, now 
isn't it.f^ I never could abide elephants or snakes ! " 

"La, sir, then you must not venture there, for they 
abound most vastly," answered Imogene. Mrs. Whyl- 
lie by this time was tittering behind her fan, and old 
Whyllie looked greatly troubled at the whole proceed- 



"A devilish climate, too, for the complexion, isn't it? " 
stroking his smooth, weak chin. 

"La, sir, indeed if you say that, I must take it as a 
poor compliment to myself." 

*'Do not mistake me, I beg," urged the officer, "for 
in your case the Indian sun has been most gentle. He 
has kissed you with a light hand — er — a light mouth, 
indeed. Lucky sun, lucky sun ! " 

"You are being vastly gentle with my complexion, 
sir, but I perceive you to be a most accomplished cour- 
tier and a turner of beautiful compliments." 

"Madam, I speak from my heart, I assure you." 

"Whoever heard of Captain Tuffton possessing one.'^" 
tittered Mrs. \Yhyllie. 

"You wrong me. Madam, I assure you," declared 
the glorious one with conviction. "My poor heart is 
too large for my scarlet tunic, I assure you. It was an 
empty shell this morning, I confess, but the beauty of 
your accomplished niece, which it has been drinking in 
with rapture, has filled that poor receptacle and made 
it swell and stretch with the very throes of deep emo- 

"La, sir, how prettily you turn the English tongue! 
How the Indians would adore you, sir!" 

"Pooh-pooh, indeed," said Mrs. Whyllie with a great 
show of decorum, "you must not take for gospel what 
the captain says. He is a very prince of dandies; in- 
deed, he is second only to the Regent and Mister Brum- 


mel in all manners of deportment. I never trust dan- 
dies myself entirely." 

"Oh, Madam, pray, pray, make me the exception." 

"No, Captain, for you are not only a dandy, but a 
soldier, and soldiers are another class I distrust." 

"Ah, Madam," lisped the officer, "you are cruelty 

"I cannot help it, my dear sir. Soldiers are not to 
be trusted, and well you know it. They walk about 
with gay apparel, appearing the most gentle of crea- 
tures, but we know how dangerous they are, aye, dan- 
gerous both morally and physically, w^ith their minds 
full of most terrible conquests planned against poor 
women, and their pockets stuffed to the bursting point 
with explosives and weapons." 

" La, Madam, you are mistaken, upon my soul. Take 
my case now as an example : I came here, I confess it, 
with thoughts of conquest in my mind, but I am con- 
quered, I am vanquished, I am beaten most damnably 
myself. The eyes of your niece have sown my very 
foundations with salt." 

"Indeed, sir, that's bitter!" exclaimed Imogene, 

"And as to the belief that soldiers — officers, that is — 
are loaded with explosives and weapons, why, pish! 
Madam, it is a fallacy, I assure you. We leave explo- 
sives to the sergeants and our weapons to our orderlies. 
It is not only most damnably dangerous to carry fire- 


arms on our person, but it is most damnably damaging 
to the set of one's clothes. Indeed, I declare that the 
cream of the army would retire if carrying weapons was 
insisted upon." 

"And you mean to say, sir, that you, a captain, walk 
abroad in your uniform unarmed.^ " 

"And with the place infested with French spies.^" 
added Imogene, shuddering. 

"WTiy, yes. Madam, I assure you it is so. ^\lien I 
w^lk abroad I rely entirely for my personal safety upon 
my tasselled cane, and I venture to suggest that I could 
put up a very pretty fight with it." 

"But it would not be of much service against pistols, 
would it. Captain.^" asked Mrs. Whyllie. 

"Perhaps not. Madam, but who would want to put a 
pistol to my head?" 

"You must have many enemies surely, Captain," 
suggested the old lady, "for are you not in command 
of the press gang.^" 

"Yes, and a poor job it is for an army officer," said 
the soldier. "I take no interest in the sea at all, and 
the authorities are endeavouring to transfer me to the 
marine service." 

"The press gang does most cruel work, too, I hear," 
went on the old lady. 

" Well, you see, that really cannot be helped. Madam. 
War with France is a certain thing, and if our navy is 
not able to smash Napoleon on the sea — well, we shall 


not be able to sing *Ilule Britannia' any more, now shall 
we? And if young men won't join the navy — well, we 
have to make 'em, you see, and that's what the press 
gang's for, don't you know? If you cannot get a thing 
done for love, you know, you must get it done by force. 
Do you follow me?" 

"Perfectly, my dear Captain," said Mrs. \Miyllie. 
"That little maxim of yours is most admirable, I de- 
clare, and we shall put it to most instant practice." 
Thereupon the old lady got up from her chair and 
pointed a pistol at the captain's head. "And it's most 
fortunate, I vow, that your tasselled cane is reposing 
safely in the hall." 

"^Vhat does this mean. Madam?" spluttered the 
captain. "Are you joking? " 

"My dear niece," said the old lady, "this admirable 
captain really asks us if we are joking." 

The captain turned his terrified eyes to Imogene 
only to discover that she also held a pistol at his head. 

"What is the cause of this terrible behaviour?" he 

"You are going to pay your debts, my dear Captain," 
said the old lady. "To pay your debts in full. You 
have owed me apologies for a long time which you have 
taken no pains to tender to me. You made me a 
laughing-stock in public — well, I am now going to re- 
turn the compliment, and heaven shield you from the 
scorn of your brother officers, the anger of your supe- 


riors, and the scathing and greedy wits of the neighbour- 
hood. I say, heaven shield, for I shan't. Antony, my 
dear, get the paper out of the drawer in the desk there." 

Old Mr. Wliyllie moved behind the captain and went 
to the desk. The captain moved toward Mrs. Whyllie. 

"Stay where you are!" she ordered. "If you move 
again I shall fire." 

" A likely tale ! " he spluttered. " You wouldn't dare ! " 

"I can easily contradict you on that score," quickly 
remarked the old lady, and she pulled the trigger. The 
captain fell back upon the sofa, his pale face blackened 
with powder, his eyes blinded with smoke, and a sharp, 
pricking sensation in his left shoulder. 

" My God ! " he cried. " You've hit me." 

"And shall do so again if you give me any more trou- 
ble," said the old lady, "and," she added, "next time 
I may aim to kill," and she took up another pistol from 
the mantelpiece. "You see, sir, we were quite prepared 
for you." 

Then the lawyer set a table before him with pen and 
ink and requested him to sign a certain paper that he 
had already drawn up. This paper was addressed to 
the petty officer in charge of the press gang, and com- 
manded that the young man of the name of Denis 
Cobtree should be driven immediately in a hired coach 
to the house of Antony Wliyllie, attorney-at-law, AYatch- 
bell Street, who would give them further commands. 
To this paper Captain Tuffton signed his name. In- 


deed, he could do nothing else; and a servant was sent 
off to the castle to deliver it. 

In half an hour or so the noise of a coach was heard 
rattling over the cobblestones, and Antony WTiyllie 
left the room to see if Denis was safe. In the mean- 
time the captain had signed another paper declaring 
Denis free to return over the Sussex border into Kent, 
and this paper having been shown to the petty officer 
and a guinea piece having been put into his dirty hand 
by the lawyer himself, the seadog saluted respectfully 
and swung off down Watchbell Street whistling a tune. 
The lawyer explained the situation hurriedly to Denis 
and then went in to take Imogene's place as guard over 
the wretched soldier. But the captain was suffering 
acute spasms in his left shoulder, and this being his 
first experience of bullet wounds, he was nearly uncon- 
scious at the horror of it. So Mrs. Why Hie was able 
for a moment to lower the pistol in order to kiss Imo- 
gene, and having recommended her to Denis's care, 
bade them urge the coach quickly out of Rye and into 

"Shall I change my clothes first or send them back 
to you.^ " asked Imogene. 

"Neither, my love," answered the old lady, again 
levelling the pistol at Captain Tuffton's head; "for 
when we have packed this ridiculous soldier back to his 
place in an hour or so, I am going to see to it that Mr. 
Whyllie draws up all legal forms for adopting you as 


our daughter — that is, providing of course you raise 
no objection — but I shall do myself the honour of call- 
ing upon Sir Antony Cobtree himself within the week," 
saying which she dismissed the young people to the 
coach, and when the driver had received a handsome 
fee from the lawyer and been promised a further one if 
he made good pace for Dymchurch, he touched up the 
horses, and with great rattling clattered the cumber- 
some coach through the great gate of Rye and so out 
on the smooth highroad, where the long whip cracked 
and the wheels began to spin. But for a whole hour 
the wretched captain stayed a prisoner in the white 
house until he beseeched the old lady to let him go 
home and have the surgeon dress his wound. So at 
last she consented, and another coach having been 
hired, he was lifted into it and in a few moments reached 
his rooms, where the most criticising valet in the world 
pulled from his shoulder a steel pin. With the excep- 
tion of this deep pin prick, there was no mark of a 
wound, as indeed why should there have been? for Mrs. 
"SMiyllie had fired only a blank charge, and the old 
lawyer, according to careful instructions, had got be- 
hind the captain and dug in the pin at the crucial mo- 

And while the valet administered brandy as a restor- 
ative, a boy and a girl sat hand in hand in a great old 
coach which swayed and jolted as they dashed along 
the Romney Road toward Dymchurch. Useless, indeed. 


to follow that coach from Rye, for the necks of the four 
horses were stretched in tensioned gallop, the harness 
pulling near to breaking-point, the wheels tearing round 
the axles, and the busy driver's long whip cracking like 
pistol shots above the pounding thunder of the swift- 
flying hoofs. 



NEVER was there such a great congregation as 
upon that night in the old dim church. The 
news that Doctor Syn was to leave immedi- 
ately after the service brought everybody to bid him 
farewell, and Mipps had great difficulty in packing them 
all into the old pews. In fact, full half an hour before 
the vestry prayer the pews were all choked, and late- 
comers began to perch themselves upon the high oak 
backs. Benches were even arranged across the aisles, 
and boys climbed up on to the window ledges; in fact, 
every available place in the church capable or not ca- 
pable of supporting a human being was utilized. Jerry 
Jerk perched himself without ceremony upon the font 
cover, much to the indignation of the sexton, who in his 
capacity of verger tried to signal him off. But Jerk, 
knowing well that Mipps could not get at him over the 
benches that crowded the aisles, remained where he was. 
Right under the pulpit, immediately opposite to the 
squire's pew, sat Captain Collyer, and two pews behind 
that some half-dozen sailors fumbled with hymn-books 

under the large eyes of the bo'sun. Once Captain 



Collyer turned round to see if his men were there, and 
Jerk noticed the corner of a blue paper bulging from his 
pocket. Doctor Syn conducted the service from the 
top box of the three-decker pulpit, with Mipps below 
him carefully following the printing on the great Prayer 
Book with a dirty thumb running backward and for- 
ward. Now Doctor Syn, although appearing to the 
congregation to be wrapped up heart and soul in the 
farewell service, had found occasion to notice two things: 
the blue paper in the captain's pocket and the swinging 
lanterns of men outside the church. He alone could 
see them, for from the great height of the three-decker 
he had a good view through the window, and the flashes 
from the lanterns had revealed one important thing: 
the red coats of soldiers. The church was surrounded 
with soldiers, every door was barred and every window 
watched; and upon the face of Captain Collyer ap- 
peared a look of triumph. But none of these things 
hindered the service, which continued with great spirit. 
The sea salts in the choir bellowed the hymns louder 
than usual, although there was no schoolmaster to start 
them off on the fiddle. The hymn before the sermon was 
just finishing. Doctor Syn closed the great Bible upon 
the red cushion and placed it upon the shelf below. The 
"Amen" was reached and the congregation clattered 
back into their seats. Then the vicar leaned over the 
pulpit side and addressed his flock for the last time: 
"My friends," he began, "this is surely no occasion 


for a theological discourse. I am leaving you to-night, 
leaving you suddenly, because partings are such cruel 
things that I would not linger over them, and although 
I have for some months contemplated this sad step, I 
have been at pains to keep it to myself lest you should 
misunderstand my motive and look upon my leaving 
as a desertion. As I announced this morning, I am 
going on a mission to far-off lands, a mission to our poor 
ignorant black brethren. There are so few who can 
give up all to this work. Most of my colleagues are 
bound to their benefices by the ties of home. Being a 
single old fellow, with no relatives dependent upon my 
income, I am able to volunteer my services for this 
grand work, well know^ing that my place here can be 
filled by a better man than myself. This it is that 
makes me willing to tear myself away from the bonds of 
affection that tie me to Dymchurch, though I well know 
that those bonds can never be loosed from my heart; and 
I trust that whatever my failings may have been, you 
will sometimes think of one who has loved you all. Upon 
an occasion of this sort perhaps it is expected that I 
should sum up the poor results of my work among you. 
This I really cannot bring myself to do. AMiat I have 
done, you have all seen and know, little and worthless 
though it be. As your parson I have tried to do my 
duty, and I fear have in great measure failed. Let me, 
therefore, leave that branch of my work to rest in silence, 
and speak of something else, which will be of vital 


interest to you all. There was much poverty and 
wretchedness when I first came among you. This, 
I believe, has been greatly alleviated, and the man who 
really brought that about was not your vicar, as you all 
so kindly and fondly imagine. No; that has been the 
work of another man — a man of whom I would speak, 
for whom I would appeal to your generosity. For you 
all know that one man has risked his life and reputation 
in organizing a great scheme of benefit to the Marsh- 
men. You all know of what scheme I am speaking; but 
few if any guess to w^hat man you are indebted. There 
w^as a man hanged at Rye whose name was Clegg." 

" Clegg was never hanged at Rye ! " 

The great Bible skimmed over the side of the pulpit 
and struck the captain's hand before he could utter an- 
other word, and a flint-locked pistol clattered over the 
front of the pew and fell upon the stone floor. So 
startlingly had this happened that the congregation 
merely heard the interruption and the rapid tear of the 
Bible through the air, and lo! there was Doctor Syn 
holding the pulpit with a long brass-bound pistol in 
each hand. And there was also Mr. Mipps, the sexton, 
leaning over his desk and pointing a great blunderbuss 
at the captain's head. 

"I must beg of you, sir, not to take the words of 
God out of my mouth!" The Doctor spoke the words 
in just the same tones as the rest of his sermon, and 
continued as if nothing had happened — continued his 


sermon in mild tones, with two pistols grinning over 
the red-cushioned desk. 

"There was a man hanged at Rye. His name was 
Clegg. So it has always been believed. But the real 
Clegg was never hanged at Rye. Clegg had the laugh 
on the authorities all his life, and certainly he had the 
laugh on them at his hanging, for he was never hanged 
at all, although he was present to see the affair con- 
ducted all properly. Oh, yes, indeed, he was present 
to read the prayers over the man whom he had got to 
take his place. You see, my dear brethren, it was all 
so ridiculously simple. The man condemned for the 
Rye tavern murder was one of Clegg's own men, and, 
most fortunate for Clegg, the rascal had a daughter 
that he loved — that everybody loved. This girl would 
have no guardian had the murderer betrayed his great 
captain, and this is how the captain saved his life: 
Visiting the condemned man in prison, he bargained 
for his life. The murderer confessed to the parson that 
he was Clegg, and so got a public hanging, quite a big 
affair, in fact, a funeral of which a lord might well have 
been proud. So you see he got well paid for taking 
Clegg's adventures upon his shoulders. He received 
the curses of the military and the admiration of the 
countryside as he marched with the redcoats to the 
scaffold, and the joke of it all was that the solemn-eyed 
parson who was exhorting the poor fellow to repentance 
till his body jangled in the chains was hardly able to 


keep back his laughter, for the idea of Clegg, the no- 
torious pirate, being a country parson had of course not 
occurred to any one. Funny it certainly was, although 
there were only two to enjoy the joke — myself and my 
friend on the gallows. Funny the end was then; fun- 
nier the end will be now; for our good friend Captain 
Collyer, having come down here to discover the ring- 
leader of the wool-running organization, brought with 
him a man, a murderous rascal, who was marooned 
upon a coral reef many years ago. I marooned that 
man for sedition and mutiny. He was a Cuban priest 
and was a dangerous practiser of black magic, and as I 
didn't choose to have such satan's tricks aboard my 
God-fearing pirate vessel, the Imogene, I left him on the 
reef. How the man got off the reef I know not; for it 
was a thing impossible to do. But get off he did, and 
it must have been by some hell's trick that he managed 
it. To get him caught I forced Rash, our esteemed 
schoolmaster, whom you all admire for his great work 
among the smugglers here, to commit murder upon 
Sennacherib Pepper, who was seeing more upon the 
Marsh than was altogether healthy for him; but when 
my faithful murderer began thinking of King's evi- 
dence, I had to see that he was removed by the Marsh 
witches and done to death. I like you to know all this, 
because I am something of a vain fellow, and I never 
can abide people having the laugh on me, and so, my 
dear friend Captain Collyer, oblige me like a good- 


natured and sensible fellow by handing over that blue 
paper that is sticking out of your pocket with my death 
written thereon." 

" No. I'll be damned " 

*'If you don't there will be such a nasty mess for 
IVIister Mipps to clear up in that pew!" 

A man stepped from the choir and snatched the blue 
paper from the captain and handed it to Doctor Syn. 

"Thank you, my man!" said the cleric, taking it. 
**And now for my farewell. You are all of you in this 
church in eminent peril. The place is surrounded by 
redcoats who are in danger of being badly hurt when 
the fight comes, and all in this church are in danger of 
me being caught by the redcoats, and being obliged to 
turn King's evidence against you all to save my life. 
I should be very loath to do such a dirty thing, so you 
had better persuade our friend the captain to let me go 

Doctor Syn deliberately thrust both his pistols be- 
neath his black gown; at the same moment the captain 
sprang at the pulpit, but was knocked over with a 
violent blow from the brass candlestick that Doctor 
Syn had snatched from the pulpit socket. The sailors 
clambered out of their pew, but were met with a volley 
of hymn-books and hassocks from the sea salts in the 
choir. One or two pistols flashed, and in a second the 
entire church was a writhing, fighting mass of men. 
The women screamed and were trodden down as the 


redcoats entered the west door and forced their way 
over the upturned benches in the aisles. Above the 
congregation flew a shower of missiles — hassocks, books, 
hats, sticks, anything that could be grabbed went flying 
through the air, and Syn leaped the pulpit and fell upon 
the writhing mass that was fighting below. 

It took the redcoats a quarter of an hour to restore 
order in the church, and then Mister Mipps and Doctor 
Syn had disappeared. 

But although Collyer was very badly cut and bruised, 
he was confident, for the church had been surrounded, 
so he knew that the miscreants couldn't escape. Pres- 
ently a cry from the vestry rang out: "Help!" It 
was Mipps's voice. Collyer rushed the door, followed 
by some of his men. The remaining redcoats who had 
been watching the church were ordered inside to help 
in the arrest. These men cried out that they had seen 
the Doctor in the vestry from the window, and they 
were one and all eager to be in at the death. 

Within the vestry stood Sexton Mipps with a blun- 
derbuss at the head of Doctor Syn, who was crouched 
in terror at the old oak table. 

"There he is! Seize him! The devil! The mur- 
derer ! Seize him ! ' ' 

"So you've turned King's evidence after all, have 
you. Mister Sexton? " 

But Mipps only cried again: "There he is! Ain't 
none of you a-goin' to take him? " 


Captain Collyer obeyed the sexton and cried : " Clegg, 
I arrest you in the name of the King!" and coming for- 
ward he laid his hand upon the Doctor's shoulder. But 
the Doctor did not move. The captain shook him, 
but he did not move. Then the captain put his hand 
upon the white hair and the hand was covered with some- 
thing white. 

"My God!" he cried. "He's nailed to the table. 
It's not Syn! It's Morgan Walters. Wliere's that 
damned sexton.'^" 

But the sexton had disappeared, and Clegg had gone, 
and there, with three nails driven, one through the neck 
and one through each arm, driven right through into 
the table, lay the theatrical figure of Morgan Walters, 
in all points resembHng Doctor Syn. 



THEN the redcoats got a bad time, for a great 
fight was put up by the Dymchurch men. 
Doctor Syn's popularity had gone up at a 
bound. He had gauged his audience to a nicety, and 
had he declared himself to be the Prince Regent he 
couldn't have bettered his position, for around Clegg's 
name a million romances had been spun, but none so 
romantic, so daring, so altogether impertinent as this 
last announcement that he was the preacher Syn. That 
the greatest pirate hung should have unhanged himself 
upon the pulpit of a three-decker was indeed a colossal 
piece of impudence, and calculated to appeal to the 
innermost hearts of the Dymchurch folk, who at this 
period of history knew more about wool-running, demon 
riders, and Calais customs than anything else. Add to 
this the admiration that they had always borne toward 
Clegg, only surpassed by their dread of him, and couple 
this with Doctor Syn's popularity and the Scarecrow's 
ingenuity, not forgetting the remark in the sermon about 
King's evidence, and the cleric's escape was assured. 

For Doctor Syn could give evidence to hang them all, 



and although they thought that he was sportsman 
enough to hold his tongue if it came to a crisis, they 
didn't like to risk it; for Clegg had proved himself true 
enough to his friends but utterly criminal toward his 
foes. For all these reasons they put up a fight, and a 
sharp fight it was. 

There was a rumour that Doctor Syn and Sexton 
Mipps had taken cover in one of the smugglers' retreats 
at the Ship Inn, and although Mrs. Waggetts innocently 
protested against it, the order was given to ransack the 
place from cellar to attic. But it was none so easy 
to ransack such a rambling old house, defended as it 
was by desperate ruflSans fighting for the secrets of their 
livelihood, for since Doctor Syn had hidden the wool- 
running scheme under his black gown money had flowed 
freely among the Dymchurch men. But the blood of 
the redcoats was up, for three of their number had been 
shot dead, and several had been badly wounded, so 
when they eventually got possession of the inn they 
showed IVIrs. Waggetts' property no mercy. And for 
Mrs. Waggetts herseK — well, the rage of the redcoats 
was so uncontrolled when the old house was found 
stacked with smuggled goods that they cursed her for 
an old witch and hanged her from the old Ship sign 
above the door. 

Meantime a lugger was trying to catch the breeze, 
trying to get out of the great bay to the open sea; but 
the wind had failed, so certain men aboard got out the 


oars and pulled away with a will. Then some fool lit 
one of the piled beacons on the shore. Others were 
lighted, and the flames shot up along the wall to Little- 
stone, and the King's men managed to launch the pre- 
venter's cutter and chase the lugger. The men routed 
out of the Ship Inn crowded to the wall to hinder the 
King's men, but Collyer was in command and bravely 
kept his men's heads for them amid a hail of bullets 
from the sea-wall. 

The cutter was not long in swinging alongside the 
lugger, and Collyer clambered aboard, with three or 
four of his men armed with pistols and cutlasses. The 
men on the lugger had stopped rowing when they saw 
that they had no chance of escape, and as soon as the 
captain hailed them they surrendered sullenly. 

The men at the oars were ordered into the cutter, and 
then the captain turned to the cabin. Outside the 
door sat Sexton Mipps with his blunderbuss lying across 
his knees, ready to hand. But he appeared quite calm, 
and was enjoying his short clay pipe. 

"Good evening. Captain," he said. "Coming out 
fishing with us, are you? " 

"Lay that blunderbuss of yours on the deck," an- 
swered the captain, "and step aboard the cutter after 
your pals." 

"I should like to know what you be," said Mr. Mipps, 
"to order a respectable parish sexton about." 

"You won't make it easier for yourself, my man, by 


lagging back," said the captain. " I know quite enough 
about you to send you to the gibbet." 

"May I ask what.^" replied the sexton, puffing away 
at his pipe. 

**I've been having a look at that coffin shop of yours, 
and I've seen enough there to get you a free rope from 
the government; so come along and make the best of a 
bad job." 

Mipps pulled desperately at his short clay pipe and 
sent over his lap a heavy cloud of tobacco smoke. Under 
cover of this his fingers were stealing toward the trigger 
of the blunderbuss. He was calculating his chances, 
for there were three pistols pointing at him from the 
King's men. If he was shot, he meant to take the 
captain with him. 

"There's one chance of saving your dirty carcass," 
went on the captain, not noticing those crafty fingers 

"What's that?" said the sexton behind the blue cur- 
tain of tobacco smoke. 

"There's one man I'd a deal sooner hang than you, 
and that's Clegg. Tell me where Doctor Syn is and 
I'll give you twenty -four hours to make yourself scarce." 

"Thank you kindly," went on the sexton, "but I 
ain't no wish to make myself scarce. I'm quite happy 
where I am, and if you've a fancy to make yourself 
scarce, I'll be happier still." 

Just then there was a noise below of singing, and 


something splashed into the sea. The captain looked 
over the side and saw a black bottle. It was not a dark 
night, and he could see it floating away toward the 
shore, where the beacons were alight. 

"He's in that cabin!" the captain shouted. "He 
threw that rum bottle out of the stern hole." 

"If he is there," replied the sexton, "I wouldn't ad- 
vise you nor any other of my friends to go in, for it'll be 
the worse for you if you do. Hark! he's in song to- 
night, and when Clegg's in song, you can take it from 
me that he's in a devil of a mood." 

From the cabin came that horrible song: 

" Here's to the feet wot have walked the plank. 
Yo ho! for the dead man's throttle." 

And then words were uttered in a drunken voice, the 
voice of a drunkard in terror. 

"It's the drink! There's nobody there, there's no- 
body in this cabin, I say. It's a shadow, nothing but a 
shadow. He couldn't have got here. It's a shadow 
risen from hell to mock me, I say. He couldn't have 
got off that reef. There was nothing for him to live 
upon but the filthy body of the yellow cook, and would 
even the foulest man eat food not fit for sharks.^ There 
was nothing else. No vegetation, simply a thin coral 
reef. I can hear the surf now breaking into the lagoon. 
There, listen! There, hark at him cursing! It's no 


use, tell him. The crew's afraid of me. They're only 
muttering, they daren't speak again, for I've settled 
with Pete, the yellow cook — broke his spine in with a 
capstan bar. How it did get wedged between the bone. 
I tore it out with my nails. There goes Pete's body 
over the side into the clear water. Ugh! what a hor- 
rible splash it makes! The water doesn't seem to hide 
him much! There's his ugly yellow face still! Why 
don't the water hide him? It hides lots of other ugly 
things, damn it ! The breeze, thank God ! We are slip- 
ping away, faster, faster. The coral reef is sinking into 
the deep sea. The marooned scoundrel, the damned 
mulatto, can't throw a harpoon from there, he can't! 
He's dead already! Cram on the canvas, every inch! 
Get up aloft! Won't take my orders, eh? Get up! 
Get up! I'll teach you who Clegg is ! Ah! look there! 
There's something following the ship. WTiat a horrible 
face it has! My God, it's yellow! Horrible! It's 
coming out of the sea! It's creeping over the stern, 
along the deck ! It's coming to the roundhouse ! Lock 
the door! No! No! It's here inside the roundhouse. 
You've locked it in with me, you fools ! You cowards, 
it's following me round! It isn't him! It isn't him! 
It's a shadow — a damned silly shadow. WTiere's the 
rum? Mipps, you damned little pirate, where have 
you hid the rum? 

"Here's to the corpses floating round in the tank; 
And the dead man's teeth in the bottle." 


The song turned into a scream of agony. There was 
the noise of a soul-sickening thud, and something leaped 
through the cabin door, tumbling Mr. Mipps all over 
in a heap. The three pistols of the King's men flashed, 
another scream tore the air, and a tall figure sprang 
high into the night and disappeared into the sea. 

"It's Clegg! It's Syn!" shouted one of the King's 

**And we've shot that damned little sexton, too!" 
shouted another, for Mipps lay flat on his face, with his 
fingers outstretched upon the deck. 

Collyer rushed into the cabin, while the men reloaded 
a pistol in case the head of Doctor Syn should rise from 
the sea. 

"Bring a light!" shouted the captain. 

The cabin was small, but larger than might have been 
expected from the size of the craft. When a lantern 
had been passed through, it showed a little room whose 
walls were the sides of the boat. On one side was a 
heavy little flap table, fixed into the ribs of the boat 
with rusty iron sockets. Upon this table, flat down on 
his face, indeed in the very position that Morgan Wal- 
ters had appeared upon the vestry table, was Doctor 

"My God!" cried the captain. "Look at the face!" 
The dead face pressed against the table was indeed a 
face of horror, for driven right through the neck was 
Clegg's harpoon, and the hideous grin on the Doctor's 


usually benign old face was entirely abominable to look 

"It's Doctor Syn! It's Clegg!" ejaculated the three 
seamen who had entered the cabin. "Then, in God's 
name, what did we shoot out there. ^ " 

"The mulatto," said the captain. "He has been 
here before us." 

"Then we shot the mulatto, sir!" exclaimed one of 
the men. 

"You shot the sexton," cut in the captain, "but for 
the mulatto — well, it's my honest opinion that — but 
there, that sort of thing is beyond a sailor. Here you ! " 
he addressed one of the sailors, "just get a piece of sail- 
cloth from the deck and we'll stitch this body up, and 
you two help me get this damned harpoon from his 
neck. There's a ballast shot in our boat that'll do 
for his feet, for I'm not going to take this body ashore. 
It might cause a fresh outcry among the people. Be- 
sides, now that old Clegg's log is entered, I've no desire 
to hang his body in chains. It's a barbarous custom. 
If ever a man deserved to be buried at sea, Clegg did, for 
rascal though he was, he was a wonderful seaman, so a 
seaman's grave he shall have, or I'm no sailor." 

Suddenly a cry arose from the man who had gone 
from the cabin in search of the sailcloth. 

" What is it.^ " called the captain. 

"My God!" cried the sailor, dashing back into the 
cabin, "the sexton ! the sexton ! " 


"What of him? " demanded the captain. 

"He's not dead ! He's not dead ! " yelled the man. 

"All right! all right!" said the captain. "Will he 
live to hang?" 

"But he ain't there at all, sir! " shouted the sailor. 

"Not there? " cried the captain. 

"No, sir, he's gone, and there's no signs of him any- 

So they had not even shot the sexton, for as soon as 
the captain came out of the cabin door he saw that the 
body had gone, true enough. Mipps, indeed, who had 
not been touched by the three bullets, had bided an op- 
portunity and let himself quietly over the side away 
from the cutter, and struck out through the water with 
a stronger and quicker stroke than any one would credit 
such an ancient man to possess. 

They searched for him to no avail, and they searched 
for the mulatto's body to no avail, and the horrible 
corpse of Doctor Syn was buried that night at sea by the 
captain's orders, sewn up in a sail with a shot at his 
feet, so his song came back to him for an epitaph: 

"A pound of gunshot was tied to his feet; 
And a ragged bit of sail was his winding sheet." 



THE next day war was again declared with France 
and every available man was pressed into ser- 
vice. Collyer was recalled from DymcKurch 
with all his men, and he was one of the first to fall under 
Nelson's command. His death was the saving of many 
necks in Dymchurch, for he had found out about every- 
thing. The demon riders and their steeds he could have 
marked down by day, and he had discovered how they 
transformed themselves, for in Mipps's coffin shop he 
had come across a recipe for the preservation of the sand 
phosphorous with which the sexton used to daub the 
riders and horses. The object of these men was to scare 
people away from the Marsh when the pack-ponies were 
out bringing the wool from the Marsh farms to the coast 
— people who were not in the wool-running scheme. 
With the death of Doctor Syn came the death of the 
wool-running. Sir Antony discovered in the vicarage 
much money stored away, and a sea-chest full of great 
valuables which Clegg had evidently amassed in the 
Southern Seas. A bar of gold and a wonderful ruby were 
sufficient in themselves to create a comfortable fortune, 



and as Doctor Syn had left a will leaving everything 
to Imogene, Sir Antony stretched a point and kept 
matters to himself, for he was afraid that the wealth 
would drift to the Crown by law. However, as Leveller 
of the Marsh Scotts, he found that it was easy enough 
to hush affairs up, for the French war was in everybody's 
mind. So eventually Denis married the daughter of the 
Incan princess, the adopted daughter of Mrs. Whyllie 
of Rye, though Sir Antony could never really prove 
her origin, but he would never admit even to himself 
that most probably Doctor Syn had been romancing. 
The secret of England's treasure died with Clegg, but 
whether that was only a lying excuse of the scoundrel 
to get away from Dymchurch, the squire could never 
make out. Jerry Jerk grew up and became the Maid- 
stone hangman, and Dymchurch remained under the 
wall. But although Doctor Syn was succeeded by 
more righteous vicars, none was so popular as he had 
been, and the few Dymchurch men who survived the 
French war missed the long extempore prayers on a 
Sunday and the dry-as-dust sermons preached by a man 
who was a man before he became either a parson or a 
scoundrel, for scoundrelism is after all only a point of 
view of some community, and Dymchurch folk would 
have welcomed back Syn knowing that he was Clegg, 
because they all knew him to be a daring, dashing fellow 
and a dear old man. 

Dymchurch is very quiet again, and the wild adven- 


tures of the few days recorded in this book were for- 
gotten after Trafalgar, but the Doctor was never for- 
gotten by those who knew him, and it would bring tears 
to their eyes did anybody chance to sing his quaint old 
capstan song: 

"Here's to the feet wot have walked the plank; 
Yo ho ! for the dead man's throttle. 
And here's to the corpses floating round in the tank; 
And the dead man's teeth in the bottle. 

" For a pound of gunshot tied to his feet, 
And a ragged bit of sail for a winding sheet; 
Then the signal goes \\Tth a bang and a flash. 
And overboard you go with a horrible splash. 

"And all that isn't swallowed by the sharks outside, 
Stands up again upon its feet upon the running tide; 
And it keeps a bowin' gently, and a lookin' with surprise 
At each little crab a scramblin' from the sockets of its eyes." 



OFF the Malay peninsula lies the island of Penang. 
Upon the mountain outside the little town, and 
overlooking the sea, stands an ancient Chinese 
monastery. Every evening when the dusk hour falls, 
and when English sextons go to ring the evensong, an 
odd little man throws sacred crackers into the red-hot 
stomach of the Chinese God of Plenty. After this office 
is performed he repairs to the great pool, where the 
sacred turtles live, to enjoy an evening pipe of opium. 
And there, as the turtles crawl upon the flat slab rocks 
that fringe the pool, he delights his colleagues, the yel- 
low priests, with horrific tales of demons and ghosts that 
inhabit the old parts of Britain. 

All the priests in that far-off temple know of Romney 
Marsh by reputation, and they would never go to Eng- 
land for fear of it. If a traveller from Kent ever 
reached that far-off temple in his journey through the 
world he would think it strange and homely to hear 
the yellow priests discussing horror tales of Romney 
Marsh, but he would understand if he could recog- 
nize in the odd little man, dressed in the dirty blue 



robe of the yellow race, the Dymchurch sexton, Mr. 

What's he doing there, how did he get there, and how 
long will he stop there ? Who knows ! 

Perhaps the ancient fellow has still unfulfilled am- 
bitions and dangerous, profitable enterprises tucked 
away under that Chinese sleeve. But it is pretty certain 
that Dymchurch-under-the-Wall will see him no more. 




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